Sunday, July 20, 2014

Met Ephrem (Kyriakos) on Mercy

Arabic original here

"Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me."

How many times have we said "Lord have mercy" in its various forms? When we say these words consciously, they presume that we admit our sins and repent of them.

This mercy that is asked for from God transcends justice. It is a call to imitate God. Mercy is one of God's attributes: "Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful" (Luke 6:36).

Mercy presumes an open heart, love as broad as a womb ['mercy' and 'womb' are almost homophones in Arabic]. It presumes that we embrace others just as God embraces us, and also much patience. The Greek term "makrothimia", longsuffering,  literally means being slow to anger. Open your heart wide until it resembles God's heart. He is the compassionate Father. He is "longsuffering, plenteous in mercy, most compassionate, who loves the righteous and has mercy on sinners, who calls all to salvation with the promise of good things to come."

Mercy does not do away with strictness when it is necessary. Sometimes there must be discipline and rupture on the path to healing. "Now no chastening seems to be joyful for the present, but painful; nevertheless, afterward it yields the peaceable fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it.  Therefore strengthen the hands which hang down, and the feeble knees, and make straight paths for your feet, so that what is lame may not be dislocated, but rather be healed." (Hebrews 12:11-13).

Practice forgiveness. It is the medicine that cures hatred. Forgive your brother who sins against you because he is of Christ's flesh and blood. If our insistent request of  "Lord have mercy" forty times, for example, comes from the cry of the heart, it will attract God's attention. The blind man of Jericho cried out, "Lord Jesus, Son of David, have mercy!" and others rebuked him to keep quiet. But he cried out more and more, "Son of David, have mercy!" And Jesus finally responded, "See, your faith has healed you." (Cf. Luke 18: 38 and 42)

For this reason, we say many times in our liturgical prayer "Have mercy on us O God according to the greatness of Your mercy we ask You, hear us and have mercy!" All of this, ff we truly believe that the Lord Jesus Christ our God is the Savior, "Your faith has saved you. Go in peace."

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