Saturday, November 28, 2015

Met Ephrem (Kyriakos) on Individualism

Arabic original here.

"By brother is my life," go the famous words of Saint Silouan the Athonite, meaning that the other, my neighbor, my colleague at work, and all the people that I meet are my life. Let us contemplate these words. Despite the fact that our society is moving in the direction of individualism, our Orthodox faith is an effort in the opposite direction. We Christians believe that humans are closely bound to each other. This is clear in the teaching of our Lord and God Jesus Christ, who said, "I was hungry, I was thirsty, I was naked, I was sick and in prison-- everything you have done to these My brothers, you have done to Me."

Likewise, there are many parables in the Holy Bible through which Christ wanted to indicate this important fact-- that my brother's comfort and happiness are an essential part of my own comfort and happiness. Indeed, my brother's comfort and happiness at the expense of my own comfort and happiness is the guarantee of my eternal comfort and happiness. The parable of the rich man and Lazarus is very clear with regard to this fundamental matter for the success of our spiritual life. The rich man did not notice the existence of Lazarus, the poor sick man at his door, ignoring him completely. Christ condemned the rich man and blessed Lazarus, but why? To be sure, Jesus did not condemn the rich man because of his riches, and the Church does not consider wealth and the acquisition of property to be a sin. Nevertheless, the Author of the Bible warns us of the danger of being rich. Why? Because wealth tries to make us its slaves so that we will rely on it and not on God. Wealth can blind our hearts and make us callous before the sobs of the needy and their need for help. Brothers, comfort and security for ourselves makes us feel that we are invincible and this causes vanity and pride to take root in us. We start by thinking that we have obtained this wealth and this empire by our own personal intellectual abilities and competencies, forgetting that "every perfect gift comes down from God." Thus, we often deceive ourselves when we think that happiness and security come through wealth. Wealth and money are a dangerous temptation because they try to take the place of God and His commandment in our life. From the very beginning, Cain asked God, "Am I my brother's keeper?" God responded with total frankness, "Yes, each one of us is his brother's keeper." This is a practical responsibility that is urgent and necessary in our spiritual life, which is perfected through good works, according to the words of the Apostle James in his Catholic Epistle, and which make perfect everything beneficial for our souls.

Let us always remember that our brothers are our life because they are the image of our God who gave us life and who continues to give us life. Let us share every good thing with others, who are the image of our Creator, so that the Lord may permit us to share in His heavenly kingdom because in all simplicity, if we love His children, then we have loved Him in them. Without loving what is seen, it is not possible to love what is not seen, according to the words of the Holy Evangelist John.

Metropolitan of Tripoli, al-Koura, and Their Dependencies

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