Saturday, March 5, 2011

Met. Ephrem's Sermon for Meatfare Sunday, 2011

Arabic original here.

Beloved, we in the Church and steadily drawing near to the blessed Great Fast. One who follows the calendar of the Church knows that today is called Meatfare Sunday or the Sunday of the Last Judgment. If we want to enter into the depth of meaning of these things, we should search for the link that unites the Judgment with the fast. This Sunday, a faithful, practicing person in the Church eats meat for the last time before the Great Fast. So since this is the beginning of fasting, why did the Church make it so that this passage of the Gospel is read and heard, this passage that talks about the Judgment, that is the day when God Himself comes to judge each person according to his works. Because of our worldly occupations, we do not think enough about how God will come to judge us according to our good and evil works. This exists not only in the Christian religion, but also in Islam and also in Judaism. In this passage from the Gospel, it says that the Lord is on the throne of his glory, that is that He will come to judge us. This is not in the form of the child Jesus, who was born in a cave and suffered and was beaten, but rather in the form of the awesome Creator who created heaven and earth and man in order to give Him glory. He will divide people up and place the first group on his right side, those who did good works. The second group will be on His left, those who did evil works. Thus he will separate people. And what is the standard of judgment? The standard is: I was hungry and you fed me. I was thirsty and you gave me to drink. I was sick and you visited me. I was imprisoned and you came to me.

That is, He asks us to look after others, of others in need. The Lord wants us to go out of ourselves, we who are occupied with ourselves most of the time, with our personal affairs. He asks us to go and be concerned with the affairs of God and of others, at least during this time. In this way the fast is training. It is a person’s focusing himself as much as he can on emptying himself for the affairs of God! How does he empty himself for the affairs of God? In prayer and in fasting. But also, as the Holy Fathers say, it is not enough for us to pray and to fast from outward things. We must do works of mercy. We must look after others, not ourselves. A person does not advance, does not grow, if he looks after himself, looks after his ego. The Lord asks us to look after others. This is the deep meaning of the fast, that we see others, that we see their needs. At that point the Lord will bless us and put us on His right side. What does the right side mean in Christianity? It means that we share in God’s glory. And God’s glory is joy, peace, eternal life. The person who goes out from himself, all the meaning of life is in this point: that we see the other and that we love him as he is. At that point we rejoice, not with artificial, external joy, but with profound, deeply-rooted joy. We feel that we live and thus we enjoy the life that God gave us. But as for those who only look after themselves, hear what the Gospel says: they will see God’s glory. All of us will see God’s glory, but the wicked will see God’s glory as a burning fire. The eternal fire is not Hell, it is the state of inner burning for one who does evil works. He sees the face of God and it burns him and he is eternally tormented. So we ask God to give us this joy, the joy of the fast, so that we can purify ourselves and train ourselves for the service of others, amen.


Apophatically Speaking said...

Again many thanks for your translation work.

NOCTOC said...

Very heart filling. Thank you for translating all these for us.

I wish to all people a Good Lend.