Until when, then, O Lord, wilt Thou forget me,? for ever? Until when, then, wilt Thou turn away Thy face from me? Behold and hear me, O Lord my God: enlighten my eyes. (First Sunday, Evening Psalm, translated from the Coptic)
When I meditate on this Psalm, I could see our father Adam in Hades. And in case you don’t have an idea about what Hades is, let me give you an approximation in as much as our language can describe the hidden mysteries. I want you to imagine a basement, built underground, with no windows, and the door to that basement is shut and the key to in is in the hands of Satan! There are no furnishings or any amenities there. Imagine our father Adam sitting on the cold floor, his hands are shackled to the wall behind him and his ankles are shackled to the floor beneath him. It is very dark and depressing.
    Adam is tormented by  his memories. Memories of his formal happiness in Paradise, when God was his friend. When he had everything and lacked nothing. He had authority over all of God’s creatures. God gave him this authority. He reminisces about the worst day of his life when both he and his wife Eve exercised the divine gift of free will given to them by God, to disobey God; their creator and their friend. He recalls the words he heard from God on that awful day: 
Because thou hast hearkened unto the voice of thy wife, and hast eaten of the tree of which I commanded thee, saying, “Thou shalt not eat of it: cursed is the ground for thy sake; in sorrow shalt thou eat of it all the days of thy life;  Thorns also and thistles shall it bring forth to thee; and thou shalt eat the herb of the field; In the sweat of thy face shalt thou eat bread, till thou return unto the ground; for out of it wast thou taken: for dust thou art, and unto dust shalt thou return.” (Ge 3:17-19)
Adam and Eve were condemned to a life of sorrow, at the end of which they had to die and then go to Hades to be prisoners of Satan, who convinced them that they will be “like God” if they listened to him. Beside the doom and the gloom of these word, Adam remembers another word of God that gave him a glimmer of hope. And I could almost hear him crying out to God: “Lord, Thou hast promised us that one day, the Seed of the Woman shall come to bruise the head of the serpent, that serpent that deceived us and robbed us of our eternity.” I could also hear him saying, “Lord it has been thousands of years since that promise and we have been waiting in this awful place: Until when, then, O Lord, wilt Thou forget me,? for ever? Until when, then, wilt Thou turn away Thy face from me?”
    Then, pleading with the Lord Adam adds: “Behold and hear me, O Lord my God: enlighten my eyes.”  You see, For all of these years God had turned away His face from the supplication of Adam, and now Adam is asking God to look upon him and hear his prayer. He is asking God to enlighten his eyes. Isaiah the prophet who was in the same place with Adam, must have told him about God’s promise that “The people that walked in darkness have seen a great light: they that dwell in the land of the shadow of death, upon them hath the light shined.”  (Isa 9:2) God’s promises for the future are usually put in the past tense, as if they have been already fulfilled. And in this prophesy God is promising that those in Hades, the place of “darkness and the shadow of death” will one day, see the True Light shining upon them. This indeed was fulfilled after the Lord died on the Cross, when His soul, united to His divinity, descended into Hades to release the souls imprisoned there and bring them to Paradise. It is for this reason that we call Great Saturday, “Saturday of the Light” for in it the True Light did shine upon those who were sitting in darkness and the shadow of Death. 

The LORD looked down from heaven upon  the earth:  To hear the groaning of those in fetters. To declare the name of the LORD in Zion, and his praise in Jerusalem. (First Sunday, Morning Psalm, translated from the Coptic)
It seems to me that the morning psalm is the answer to Adam’s prayer.  The Lord, who for thousands of years had turned His face away from the fallen human race, has finally decided that the time has come to save Adam and his children from the bondage of the enemy. God now looks down from heaven, “To hear the groaning of those in fetters.”  Those in fetters are those souls imprisoned in Hades, and they have been groaning for thousands of years, awaiting for the salvation promised by the Lord of old. 
    Now, the time has come “To declare the name of the LORD in Zion, and his praise in Jerusalem.”  “Zion” and “Jerusalem” are to be taken in the prophetic sense as referring to the Church,. The bride of Christ. Now the time has come to declare the name of the Lord in Zion! Now is the time for the fore-runner to come “To declare the name of the LORD in Zion” to tell the people of Zion: “Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world.” (Jn 1:29-30) Now the time has come for the angel Gabriel to go to Zachariah the priest to bring to him the good news of the salvation of the world.
Thou shalt return, and have compassion upon Zion: For it is  time to have compassion upon her, For the LORD will build up Zion, and shall appear in his glory. (First Sunday, Liturgy Psalm, translated from the Coptic)
This Psalm is a continuation on the same theme: the time has come for the salvation promised by the Lord to be manifested. For His mercy to be fulfilled to Adam and to his children. Of course, not all of the children of Adam could benefit from this promised salvation. Only those who believed the promise of God and had hope in Him would be saved. Those who despaired from their salvation, like Cain would not benefit from the salvation that the Lord offers freely to all. “For it is  time to have compassion upon her” Someone once said, God’s timetable is so different from ours! We often ask for things from God and want them right now!  
    Zachariah and his wife Elizabeth must have been praying for years asking the Lord to give them a child. The question must have come to their mind, why does the Lord not answer our prayer? What they did not know is that God will answer their prayer in the appointed time. God knew that they will be given not an ordinary son, but one who is the greatest among those born of women! But his coming to the world has to wait until the Lord decides that the time to have compassion on Zion has come; for John will be the herald of this compassion!
    “For the LORD will build up Zion” Indeed the time has come for the true Zion to be built up, not by the hands of men but, by God Himself. This Zion that the Lord will build is not the earthly Zion of the Jews, which became a harlot, going after strange gods, but the new Zion, the Church of God made both of Jews and Gentiles.
    “... and shall appear in his glory.”    Indeed, the time has now come for the Lord to appear in His glory. The glory that the angels declared at His manifestation by saying: “Glory to God in the highest!” For indeed, The baby in the manger was glorified by men on earth and in the same time by the angels in heaven. Some interpret this versicle as a prophesy about the transfiguration when the chosen disciples beheld His glory on the holy mountain.

Reprinted from: PAROUSIA, JANUARY 2007  Read it online

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