Saturday, August 25, 2018

Met Ephrem (Kyriakos): Paul's Final Admonitions

Arabic original here.

Paul's Final Admonitions

Paul's First Epistle to the Corinthians ends with the valediction "Maran atha", "come O Lord." He says to the Christian soldier, "Watch, stand fast in the faith, be brave, be strong. Let all that you do be done with love" (1 Corinthians 16:13-14).

Let us not forget that great hymn to love found in 1 Corinthians 13.

This summarizes Paul's admonitions throughout the entire epistle. This reflects the divine power that the believer receives in the Lord Jesus, who "is strengthened in the Holy Spirit" (cf. Luke 1:80 and 2:40).

"May your hearts be strengthened" (Psalm 30/31: 24).

 All of this is realized if there abounds love, which is the source of all virtues. After that, the Apostle mentions his helpers, the first of which is Stephen and his house, who are the first people that he evangelized in the region of Achaea. This family served "the saints." That is, the poor of Jerusalem.

His words in the epistle include greetings to Aquila and his wife Priscilla, his assistants in establishing the Church of Corinth and the Church of Ephesus (Acts 18:2 and 18).

Paul insists on the greeting among brothers and asks that this greeting be among them "with a holy kiss." This kiss comes out of the love, kindness and mercy that flow into the Divine Liturgy, expressing union in love and faith. Saint Justin Martyr the Philosopher (2nd century) testifies to this.

Today the bishop and the priests practice it while they are in the altar.

The followers of Christ cry out, "Maran atha." That is, come Lord Jesus, come! Amen. 

Hallelujah! It is said in Paul's Epistle to the Philippians, "the Lord is at hand" (Philippians 4:5) and also in the Book of Revelation 22:20, "Surely I am coming quickly." Come Lord Jesus!

This is the hope of the one to come. 

Do not fear, brothers! Do not fear, humankind: the Lord is at hand! Never despair: the Lord has come, is coming and shall come quickly!

He is the last true king of this world, also and especially king over the hearts of us who believe in Him:

This is the kingdom to come! Seek it first. It comes by way of God's grace. It comes by way of prayer. It comes by way of the neighbor, by way of service to those little ones, the poor. He is the true neighbor of every one of us (cf. 1 Corinthians 16:23).

The apostle's love, embodied in his last greeting, is an image of the Heavenly Father's love. This love never falls (cf. 1 Corinthians 13:8).

 Metropolitan of Tripoli, al-Koura and their Dependencies 

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