Sunday, December 17, 2017

Met Ephrem (Kyriakos): The Sunday of the Forefathers

Arabic original here.

The Sunday of the Forefathers

Luke has the Lord Jesus come not only from Abraham, but also from Adam. He wanted to highlight the comprehensive human nature of the person of Christ.

Therefore the Church says today in the prayers of vespers, "You have justified by faith the ancient forefathers and through them You have gone before and betrothed unto Yourself the Church of the gentiles." That is, the pagans, among them Melchizedek, who welcomed Abraham and tithed of everything he had to him (cf. Hebrews 1:7). He is the image of the eternal priest.

Before Christ came, His words were planted in some of the writings of the pagan peoples and in their cultures as an heir to the ancient civilizations in what applies to the words of the Gospel.

In today's Gospel, Christ calls all to His kingdom: first His people, then the sinners (the maimed, the lame, the blind), and finally the pagans (in the streets and alleys). It is the mystery of the Eucharist that establishes the Church. We miss the Divine Liturgy on account of worldly concerns: money, activities, family...

The Eucharist is an image of the kingdom to come. Through it, we taste the glory that is to come and eternal life. How is the preparation for this? How do we arrive at true knowledge of God and love of Him? "Blessed are the pure in heart for they shall see God."

This means that we must purify our hearts of every resentment through confession and repentance. Saint Isaac the Syrian says, "He who confesses his sin is greater than one who raises the dead."

Finally, on this Sunday we remember the three youths in the fiery furnace. We celebrate them along with the Prophet Daniel on December 17, before Christmas. They resemble the three angels who appeared to Abraham representing the Trinity.

They walked around in the furnace unconcerned about the fire and indeed, rejoicing at the dew of the Spirit: they represent the victory of faith over death; they extinguish the fire's power through their faith. They represent the bush that burns but is not consumed, the warmth of divine love, and also Christ's birth from the virgin, the fire that does not burn. They were not left alone in the furnace, but rather it is said:

"I see four men loose, walking in the midst of the fire; and they are not hurt, and the form of the fourth is like the Son of God" (Daniel 3:25). Amidst human suffering, Christ the Son of God accompanies us in the flame of fire and brings us dew.

Metropolitan of Tripoli, al-Koura and their Dependencies

No comments: