Tuesday, August 1, 2017

Met Ephrem (Kyriakos) on Bishops, part 2

Arabic original here. Part one can be found in English here.

The Bishop (part 2)

The Bishop as Father and Servant:

We know that a person's temptations can be outlined in three things: money, authority and pleasure. The hope is constant that the bishop will not fall into the temptation of authority and become domineering, even if he carries the staff that is fitting for being a pastor. He must follow the advice of the Lord Jesus to His disciples when He told them:

"You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and those who are great exercise authority over them. Yet it shall not be so among you... whoever desires to be first among you, let him be your slave—  just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many" (Matthew 20:25-28).

The bishop's authority is the authority of love. Fr Serge Boulgakov said, "When the bishop exercises authority, he acts with the Church and not over her because the latter constitutes a spiritual body for love."

The Bishop as the Image of Christ:

At the Divine Liturgy, only the bishop does not participate in the great entrance. He waits in the temple, in front of the royal doors and receives the offerings in order to offer them to God in the likeness of Christ offering to God the Father.

Likewise, when he looks out from the royal doors with the trikirion and dikirion, when he represents Christ in a wonderful, clear image, bearing the icon of the Trinity (the three candles) and the sign of Christ's two natures (the two candles), He is like Christ facing God the Father and says in his prayer, "O Lord, O Lord, look down from heaven and behold and visit this vineyard and perfect that which Your right hand has planted!"

Likewise, when the bishop stands at the throne, as at the beginning of the Divine Liturgy or at the prayer of Great Vespers before the blessing of the five loaves, he stands among his priests in the likeness of Christ among His apostles.

We recall here that the true head of the Church remains Christ. The bishop is only an image of Christ (cf. Ephesians 5:23).

The Virtues of the Bishop:

Some of these virtues appear in Paul's First Epistle to Timothy (3:1-8) where he says, for example: "A bishop then must be blameless... not given to wine, not violent, not greedy for money, but gentle, not quarrelsome, not covetous...."

Saint Cyprian affirms the importance of humility for the bishop, "because Christ and the apostles were humble."

We will also mention that the bishop is an element of unity in his flock. This is manifest in the Eucharistic service. The antimension on the holy table is an important symbol of the unity of the diocese through the bishop who grants the antimension by signing it.

He is also a symbol of unity between the local church and the universal Church for the unity of faith and common participation in the holy mysteries. This Church is the body of Christ extending through the centuries.

Metropolitan of Tripoli, al-Koura and their Dependencies

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