Sunday, December 31, 2017

Met Ephrem (Kyriakos): John the Forerunner

Arabic original here.

The Sunday after Nativity
The Sunday before Theophany (John the Forerunner)

"Behold, I send My messenger, and he will prepare the way before Me." (Malachi 3:1; Mark 1:2)

They asked him, "Who are you?" and he responded, "I am not the Christ." So who are you? Are you Elijah? "I am not him," he replied. Are you the prophet? "No." And he finally answered, "I am a voice crying out in the wilderness: prepare the way of the Lord." "I baptize with water, but there stands One among you whom you do not know. It is He who, coming after me, is preferred before me, whose sandal strap I am not worthy to loose" (John 1:26-27).

This is the witness of John the Forerunner. When he saw Jesus walking, he sent his disciples to catch up with Jesus, telling them, "Behold! The Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world!" (John 1:29).

Whoever has disciples, let him follow the example of John the Forerunner and encourage his disciples to follow the Lord Jesus and not follow his own person. This is sound spiritual guidance. From another perspective, if we bear truth as an evangelistic, educational message, let us follow the teaching of the Forerunner who evangelized in the wilderness of this world, saying:

"Repent, for the kingdom of God has drawn near" (Matthew 3:2). In this way we prepare, before departing this world, to meet the Lord on the Day of Reckoning.

The call to repentance, to follow the mind of Christ and His commandments, is the foundation of teaching and evangelism. Let the witness and teaching of the Forerunner and Baptist John be our witness in today's world. Just as he preceded in his age, preaching repentance, so let us like him precede Christ's coming into the hearts of others who live amidst the stream of modern life, through confessing sings and repenting of having committed them in order to follow the way of the Lord.

This is what the Church strives for in her soul-healing message, through the way of contemporary spiritual fathers in imitation of the Forerunner and Baptist John, first through preaching repentance and return to the Lord and His commandments.

Metropolitan of Tripoli, al-Koura and their Dependencies

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