Monday, March 2, 2020

Met Ephrem (Kyriakos): Message for Lent

Arabic original here.

Message for Lent

The Prophet Isaiah makes it clear to us when he said of old,  "Is this not the fast that I have chosen: to loose the bonds of wickedness, to undo the heavy burdens, to let the oppressed go free, and that you break every yoke? Is it not to share your bread with the hungry, and that you bring to your house the poor who are cast out; when you see the naked, that you cover him, and not hide yourself from your own flesh?" (Isaiah 58:6-7).

The Lord Jesus Christ Himself confronted the devil after fasting for forty days and told him, "Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God" (Matthew 4:4). It is true that the period of the fast is based on spiritual struggles, but they begin with liberation from the overwhelming desire for food. This is because the fast is based on man's unity as body, soul and spirit.

The fast is exercise in purity of body and soul for forty days so that one may be completely wakeful.

The fast also and especially nourishes the freedom of faith, making one charged with the Holy Spirit, so that one may bring many to the faith and salvation. During this fast and these difficult circumstances that we are experiencing today, we must be humble, austere. We must suffer a little on account of our sins and the sins of others. This is so that the Lord may bestow upon us material relief and spiritual forgiveness and allow us to enjoy the joy of Pascha.

Today man is drowning in the pleasures and lusts of this world. For the most part, he lives far from God.

Civilization today is the civilization of slavery.

In it, man has become a slave to money and ever-increasing consumption. A slave to the body, to lusts and intoxicants. Vice appears to be a banner of freedom, the culture of death and corruption.

During this fast, the Church invites us to return to the bosom of the Heavenly Father, like the Prodigal Son who by returning gained true freedom: returning to God's love and mercy. One of the Fathers says that eternal life exists at every moment in which we feel God's love and that we are created by God the Father who thirsts for the love of His Son and for the love of each one of us. The Book of Proverbs says, "My delight is with the sons of men" (Proverbs 8:31).

Metropolitan of Tripoli, al-Koura and their Dependencies

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