Sunday, February 11, 2018

Met Ephrem (Kyriakos): Social Work

Arabic original here.

Social Work

Today many people talk about works of mercy and charity for others.

They say that this-- I mean love of the neighbor and charity towards him-- is required before all else. This is true, insomuch as the Bible says, "break off your sins by being righteous, and your iniquities by showing mercy to the poor" (Daniel 4:27).

This can be a true expression of man's love for his neighbor, but it is not enough or rather, it is not sound, unless it springs from love of Christ.

Charity is not the end in itself, nor it it the priority, though we recognize its benefit. Let us remember God's first commandment: "Love God with all your heart, all your strength and all your mind, and your neighbor as yourself." Here it is clear that the priority is love of God and love of one's neighbor follows from it. This is the correct path. Otherwise, one will fail or, at least, be subject to the dangers of every social work that one undertakes for others.

This is the selfless love that does not desire for itself: it does not seek out thanks. It does not seek to be repaid in kind. Often we feel disappointed when we do not receive back in kind when we take a good initiative. It is as though we always need to be thanked and praised for a good deed.
Sincere love "does not seek its own" (1 Corinthians 13:5). AChristian does not act only in his own interest.

God shines His sun on the good and the wicked. He rains on both equally.

The Gospel mentions "the disciple whom Jesus loved." This does not mean that He preferred him over others. This means that Saint John the Theologian loved God more than anything and so he enjoyed, more than anyone else, Christ's one love for all. He resembled someone who was swept along more than anyone else by the vast sea. God's love is vast and inexhaustible. We need the Gospel because it reveals to us the breadth of God's love and guides us along the straight path. He is the one who tells us, "Love your enemies... Do good and pray for those who hurt you" (Matthew 5:44).

This does not mean that charity towards our neighbor will not lead us to knowledge and love of God. It means that works of mercy lead us to knowledge of God and also the inverse.

Saint Silouan the Athonite said that knowledge of Christ, His sayings and His life led him to love the entire world.

Today what is required? There are many social institutions and charitable associations for relief and works of mercy. Today there is need not only for food and clothing, but also and especially for the expression of Christian love, for the sake of physical, psychological and spiritual healing, so that one may feel that Christ Himself is visiting him through the children of the Church, especially the priest.

We are currently living in a time when we can't just call the faithful to church. We must go out to them, to their homes, to offer them alongside material food, spiritual food: God's comforting and healing word.

Charity always takes place through the knowledge and love of God.

Metropolitan of Tripoli, al-Koura and their Dependencies

No comments: