Coptic Icon Crucifixion Fanous

The Depth of Mercy in the Cross (Good Friday)

Atheism spread at the beginning of the 20th century to include Eastern European countries. Countless debates between the faithful and the non-believers took place in public.

During one of these debates was held in a big auditorium with few believers and many atheists, a leader of the non-believers stood up saying, “I challenge God, if He is here I will fall dead in front of all in attendance so they all know that He exists. But if 5 minutes pass without harm coming to me, this proves that He is a lie”.  The atheist leader looked at his watch, and kept blaspheming against God every minute passes saying “Another minute passed…quick your time is running out”.  As the fifth minute approached, some of the faithful believed that the end of this blasphemer is nigh, and that the earth will open and swallow him or that fire will rain from the heaven and burn him; however nothing happened.  Many laughed at the God who could not defend Himself.  In the midst of all these mocking laughter an elderly man asked to speak, he ascended in dignity to the stage and many attendees were certain that this is a Christian and that he will defend his faith.  The elderly man stood before all the attendees, raised his hands on the shape of the Cross, so that everyone remember the great price paid for them, and he said “Do you all think that 5 minutes or 5 years or even 5 centuries will exhaust the mercy of our Lord the good, the long suffering, the abundant in mercy? It would have been easy for Him to accept the challenge two centuries ago, and descend from the cross, when they said to Him: “If you are the Son of God come down from the Cross”. It is easy for Him to accept a challenge now, win a situation and lose a son for whom He died. However, He choose to lose the situation and win the life of His son, for He desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth.   I pray for you all, as I pray for my grandson who accuses me of following superstitions; but I can never agree to my grandson perishing as punishment for his blasphemy.  I am confident that God will answer my prayer and our countries will return to the fold of the faith, which was watered by the blood of the martyrs and confessors throughout the centuries.

The old man then raised his hand and blessed the attendees by the shape of the cross, praying for them before he descended from the stage amidst the cheering of the attendants from the believers.  The years went by, and before the end of the 20th century, the mighty God responded to the prayers of this old man and millions more.   Communism ended in Eastern Europe, as would a house built on the sand, the man who blasphemed against God came back the bosom of Christ and cried bitterly whilst submitting true repentance, remembering how he dared one day to challenge God.

My beloved, we still challenge God because we deny His existence through our deeds and unrepentant life; and God continues to extend His patience.  Here He is giving us all a new opportunity to return to His fatherly bosom through this disease that is spreading through the whole world.

This is a clear invitation to repent and return to His fatherly bosom, for His arms are always wide open on the Cross, for He does not desire the death of the sinner……Let us not lose this opportunity.

Fr. Thomas Ghobrial