Beloved Brothers and Sisters,
“For this holy house and for those who enter it with faith, reverence, and the fear of God, let us pray to the Lord.” — From the Great Litany in the Divine Liturgy of Saint John Chrysostom
A church is supposed to be a place of peace, love and prayer. During the most solemn week for Christians throughout the world, violence has once again claimed the lives of innocent people as they were gathered in worship to mark the Lord’s Entry into Jerusalem on Palm Sunday. Two churches in Egypt were attacked, with 49 people dead and dozens more critically injured. While these devoted Coptic Christians were offering prayers to the Lord, in an instant, they were called to be with Him in paradise. The tragedy that struck these innocent people is all too familiar a headline nearly every day when we watch the news. We must never become immune to this barbaric behavior but rather, continue to pray for peace in our world. The heartless cowards who bombed these churches did not just attack people, they attacked our Lord.
As we continue our journey through Holy Week, we will remember another attack, that of Jesus Christ – a man of peace, of prayer and of love – who gave up His life so that we might have eternal salvation in Him. Let us lift up in prayer all those who are suffering from this tragedy that God may renew their health, grant them comfort, and restore their churches so they may continue to preach His Gospel of love. We also offer prayers for those who lost their lives, beseeching the Lord’s eternal rest for their souls.
These acts of violence are not just on the other side of the world. They are also in our own backyard. The city of San Bernardino, California once again suffered from another act of gun violence, claiming three lives, one of them an innocent, special needs boy whose parents sent him off to school for the day, and who now will never come through the doors of their home again.
During the funeral procession of Our Lord on Holy Friday, let us also call to mind those who are also being buried with Christ and gave the ultimate sacrifice for Him. And on Great and Holy Pascha as we joyfully proclaim Christ is Risen, let us also find comfort knowing that those in the tombs have been granted eternal life through His Glorious Resurrection!
With Love in Christ,
+ G E R A S I M O S
Metropolitan of San Francisco