Saturday, October 8, 2011

Met. Ephrem on Loving Our Enemies

This sermon was originally given in the village of Bsarma, al-Koura on October 2, 2011. The Arabic original can be found here.

In the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, amen.

Beloved, let us be very attentive, so that can hear and understand the word of God in the Gospel, because the word that He put in His holy Gospel is the word of life! When a person, and especially when a Christian, wants to understand the meaning of his life, why he lives, he should pay attention, listen, and understand the word of the Gospel.

What does the Gospel say today?

This passage is taken from the famous sermon that the Lord Jesus gave, which is known as the "Sermon on the Mount": "Blessed are the poor in spirit for they shall inherit the kingdom of heaven." In this sermon, according to the interpretation of our holy fathers, we find the heart of Christian teaching, we find the most important teachings that the Lord Jesus gave to his disciples and to us as well because we are among his disciples.

What does he say to us today? "If you love those who love you, what credit is it to you? Even sinners do this. If you do good to those who do good to you, then what credit is it and what payment is it? Because even sinners and pagans do this." This is why he gives us this difficult commandment: "Therefore I say to you, love your enemies. Bless those who curse you. Do good to those who do evil to you. Pray for them." This is the Christian teaching that distinguishes us from others. This step sets us apart. This is the thing that is added to what is known in the law, an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth. The other religions are religions of law, of system. We are not satisfied to follow a system or a law. We Christians, if we desire to live as Christians, to know the deep meaning of life, to have a foretaste of the kingdom, we must transcend the law. We must not be content just to love those who love us. That is something of this world. This is something human. Our Lord wants us to transcend our humanity, transcend our weakness. Despite this, he does not want to force us to love our enemies. A person who respects his enemies, who receives them and prays for them, this person has risen above his human weakness. This is the meaning of Christianity. The Lord Jesus finishes by saying to his disciples, "Be merciful as your heavenly Father is merciful." Mercy is great love, expansive love. Just as a woman's womb [rihm] envelopes the fetus, so God's mercy [rahma] envelopes all people, both the sinners and the righteous. When the Lord sends rain, he sends it to all people and does not distinguish between the righteous and the wicked. Likewise, he tells us that our love should be for all, for those who love us and those who do not love us. In this way we acquire God's mercy and blessings, amen.

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