Monday, March 5, 2012

Met. Ephrem's Sermon for Cheesefare Sunday 2012

This sermon was originally given at the Church of the Dormition, Batrumin. The Arabic original can be found here.

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

Beloved, you heard the readings from the Epistle and the Gospel today which talk about this stage of the fast that we are entering today. The Epistle says, "The night is ending and the day has drawn near, so let us cast aside the cares of darkness and arm ourselves with the weapons of light." We heard the chant say, "the time has come for spiritual struggles." So, we Christians should understand the meaning of fasting.

What does the fast mean for us Christians? The fast is a period of time designated by the Church for our benefit and for psychological, spiritual, and bodily use. It is not a time for torturing the soul and body, but for developing the soul.

What is the essence of fasting? The word fasting is not a clear word. The true translation for this stage is abstinence, abstinence from that which is idle and prioritizing that which is good.

What does the Church say to us during this time in which prayers there are multiplied, man returns to himself and searches himself, how he lives and why he lives, and what is the purpose of his life...

In short, all these prayers, all these fasts, have the purpose of the faithful Christian trying to transform his love for himself, to transform this selfishness into love of God and love for others, to look, even a little, to others and especially to others in need, to think of others and not to think only of one's self, to transform material concerns into loftier concerns, which give value to one's life, purpose and meaning to one's life.

This is the purpose of the fasting that awaits us. It is an opportunity for us to purify our souls and bodies. A person tries to wash his body from time to time, and to clean his house. So how much more important is the soul than the body or the house. So let us try to do this, with the Lord's help and with the means that the Church offers us.

Today the Gospel calls on us to forgive, "forgive us our debts as we forgive our debtors." Let us forgive and not hate or resent others. Let us not judge others easily. Let us have this pure heart, this heart that is open wide to all the world. This is our Church, this is our heritage, this is our faith-- that we open our heart and that we open our mind also. This is what the Lord asks of us. This requires struggle on our part: abstinence, fasting, prayer, and love. This is a season of joy, not a season of sorrow and mortification. It is a season of joy because the Lord awaits us and He is the one who gives us every joy, all peace, and all salvation. Amen.

No comments: