Monday, December 7, 2015

Met Ephrem (Kyriakos) on Authority in the Church

Arabic original here.


"Whoever desires to become great among you, let him be your servant" (Matthew 20:26).

There is no knowledge greater than that which results from love. "Love God with all your heart... and your neighbor as yourself" (Matthew 22:27-39).

There is no love apart from what results from a personal relationship. God is not a stranger to us. We know Him because He became a person. He loved us and we love Him. He said to Moses, "I AM WHO I AM is with you" (Exodus 3:14).

The person is made known in the face of Christ. Every person, no matter how poor, no matter how small, made known in Christ is more precious than the entire universe. There is person and there is institution. Each person, no matter how small within the institution, is more important than all institutions. Each unique person has absolute value. The general does not surpass the particular. The Church is not an institution: it is the Body of Christ. Anything that is imposed by force is without value in the eyes of God. Therefore, in the kingdom of God, love-- and not authority-- reigns supreme. In it is the authority of love; its sovereignty is love. How should we understand authority in the Church? Authority (exousia) appears in the Gospels. It was given to the apostles "to bind and to loosen." The devil tried to give it to Christ, but He refused it because He sought something else. The authority that is given to believers is to become children of God. Authority in the Church, then, is a gift of love, not of domination by force.

Hierarchy exists in the state and there is a leader at the top of the pyramid. Christ came to overturn this picture: for Him, the king stands at the base of the pyramid, on an inverted pyramid, bearing the burden of the entire populated world. He is the ruler of all in the sense that he carries the inhabited world by the authority of his humility, his patience, and his love.

"The Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many" (Matthew 20:28).

God for us is a relational being. His true being is the Trinitarian relationship. A relationship of love.Therefore, we must learn how to love, how to deny ourselves, how to efface ourselves for the sake of the other. All of this, because love requires sacrifice. Jesus' life was like this: the service of others. "Our brother is our own life," says Saint Silouan.

Metropolitan of Tripoli, al-Koura and Their Dependencies

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