Monday, March 26, 2012

Met. Ephrem's Sermon for the Sunday of St. Gregory Palamas, 2012

This sermon was given on March 11, 2012 in Afsadiq. The Arabic original can be found here.

Today we are in the second Sunday of the Fast. Every Sunday, the Church offers us a word from the Gospel for the salvation of our souls. This story of the healing of the paralytic is precisely focused on the healing of souls. We believe that the human being is one, body and soul. Today, as you know, people are mostly concerned about their body, the health of the body, to the point that when someone meets someone else, they automatically say, "How's your health?" But people do not pay attention to the fact that the health of the soul is more valuable than the health of the body. The Gospel always focuses on what is profound. That is, it wants to heal the human person from his depths, from his roots, and this is what doctors are discovering, more and more--

When the soul is healthy, the body is healthy. What makes the soul ill? What makes our soul sorrowful? What makes our soul today anxious and fearful, especially us Christians?

Our holy fathers say: This goes back to the weakness of our faith, because we do not rely enough on God who created us. People today, and in particular Christians, believe that they "manufacture" their life themselves, with the mind. They do not rely on the grace of God which is the source of life, the source of the mind, the source of the body. All the intellectual faculties that are within us,  science, philosophy, comes from our Creator. This is our faith and this is why in the Gospel today, when Lord Jesus sees the paralytic he says to him, "Your sins are forgiven." Those present are surprised-- how is it that Christ does not heal the body first, but rather is concerned with the soul?!

What does this mean? For us this means that that which brings us death, that which sorrows us, that which causes us frustration, what we call today "depression" which ails the world, is sin, our lusts, the evil things that we do in our life. If we do not remove it, if we do not treat it, we ultimately resort to psychologists, to psychiatric medicines. But let us be concerned with our souls before everything else. For this reason, we right-believing Orthodox must live an upright life. One who lives an upright life remains healthy in soul and body and has long life.

I will not add anything else to what the Gospel says, but I will say that today we remember this woman who lived a virtuous life, as we know, and that she was a daughter of the Church, prayerful, close to God. She lived in quiet and calm and raised an honorable family. The Church asks us to pray for the repose of her soul, as you have come to do. This is something very important in the Church, that we remember our loved ones and our departed. This does much to bring rest to their souls. So we ask God to strengthen us and to have mercy on our departed. Amen.

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