Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Met. Ephrem's Sermon for August 8, 2011

This sermon was given in Dedeh, Koura, on the First Sunday after Transfiguration, August 8, 2011. The Arabic original can be read here.

In the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, amen. Beloved, today you heard the Gospel talk about the multiplication of loaves and fishes! Jesus worked this miraculous event while the crowd was gathered around him. The miracle occurred in the desert in order to remind us of how God in the past, in the Old Testament, fed the crowds in the desert.

The Gospel says that He had mercy on the people because they were hungry and said to His disciples, “Feed them.” And they said, “We only have five loaves and two fishes.” So the Lord Jesus went and blessed the bread and the fish and fed five thousand people! What does this miracle, which is in all the gospels, mean for us? You remember that during feasts that we come and bless five loaves and you know that when people wants to commemorate their living and dead they bring five loaves to the altar for the priest to bless during the Divine Liturgy. Today we are gathered in the church to partake of the body and blood of the Lord. The believers gather together in the church in order for the Lord Jesus to bless them and also so that they can pray together for the living and the dead. Today, for example, we make a commemoration for the repose of the soul of a woman and the parish gathers in order to pray together. There is nothing better than for a parish to gather together and there is nothing better than prayer for our loved ones and our departed so that our hearts may be comforted. Our Lord alone comforts the heart. For this reason, it is amazing that there are Christians who do not go to church on Sunday in order to take part with their brothers because all of us are one and the Lord Jesus is the one who brings us together.

The miracle of the five loaves occurred because all the people were gathered around the Lord Jesus and the Lord not only satisfied them materially but also gave them heavenly bread. For this reason, the Gospel says, “He blessed it and broke it and gave it to the crowds.” This same thing occurs in the Divine Liturgy when we go forward to partake in the hope that we will remain gathered in the church so that our Lord will bless us and when we pray in the church, as we are today, for the repose of the soul of this virtuous woman who left a good memory in her family and we ask the Lord to give her rest and to strengthen our hearts, amen.

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