Saturday, June 30, 2018

Met Ephrem (Kyriakos) on Obedience

Arabic original here.


There are two kinds of obedience:

The first is legal, which requires the servant to obey his teacher, the child his parents, the employee his boss, and the officer his general.

The second is spiritual. Someone defined it by saying that obedience is waiting for God. Another said that obedience is in love and love is in obedience.

This is how the Apostle Paul defined the relationship between a man and the woman joined to him in the sacrament of Christian marriage. He says in this regard, which sometimes bothers contemporary people, "Wives, submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord. For the husband is head of the wife, as also Christ is head of the church" (Ephesians 5:22-23).

The word "head" here does not indicate a higher rank. It has a functional meaning, not just a legal meaning. This is because headship, in the spiritual sense, indicates service: "Whoever desires to become great among you, let him be your servant" (Matthew 20:26).

Obedience in the sense of service, in the sense of love-- this is what Christ embodied, as the Apostle Paul, in his Epistle to the Philippians says, "And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself and became obedient to the point of death, even the death of the cross" (Philippians 2:8).

From another angle, in the original Greek the word for obedience, ὑπακοή is a word made from the particle ὑπο meaning 'under' and ακοή, which means 'hearing'.

What is intended here is the spiritual meaning of the word. Obedience here indicates that the person who is obedient is always under hearing the word of God, under the obedience of Christ and His words.

This attitude is expressed popularly with the expression "I hear and I obey." This is precisely what happened with the Virgin when she heard the announcement of the Angel Gabriel and said, "I am the handmaiden of the Lord. Let it be for me as you say" (Luke 1:38). This is also what happened with her when she heard the words of the shepherds, "Mary kept all these things and pondered them in her heart" (Luke 2:19).

Last but not least, obedience is tied to humility. When the abbot of a monastery asks something of a monk, the latter responds by saying, "may it be blessed." That is, that he carries it out immediately without discussion. Here again it is not an issue of servitude, nor even an issue of rules. It is an attitude of contrition in the soul, which attracts the grace of God, which sweeps the soul and the conscience.

Someone who is humble imitates Christ his Lord, who "emptied Himself, taking the form of a servant," He who "humbled Himself and became obedient to the point of death, even the death of the cross," which allowed Him to die in order to "gather together in one the children of God who were scattered abroad" (John 11:52).

Metropolitan of Tripoli, al-Koura and their Dependencies

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