Tuesday, September 25, 2018

Met Ephrem (Kyriakos): Mercy

Arabic original here.


The word occurs in most prayers and supplications: Have mercy O God, according to Your great mercy, we ask You, hear us and have mercy! Have mercy upon me, O God, according to Thy great mercy: according to the multitude of Thy tender mercies blot out mine iniquity. Wash me thoroughly from mine iniquity, and cleanse me from my sin!

Here we also recall our favorite constant prayer, the Jesus Prayer: "Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner:" Lord have mercy, Lord have mercy, Lord have mercy.

All of these petitions, and especially the command "Be merciful even as your heavenly Father is merciful," describe God as merciful and call on us to imitate His great mercy.

Divine mercy [Arabic, ra7ma] is nothing other than God's expansive, infinite love, which resembles the expansive womb [Arabic, ri7m] that accept, embraces and nourishes the fetus.

This great divine mercy always strives for all people to be saved from sin and from death so that they may receive eternal life.

This mercy extends to even embracing enemies, to cooperating with people and loving them without waiting for anything from them in return.

Therefore in the Gospel (Luke 6:35-36), the Lord Jesus commands, "Love your enemies, do good, and lend, hoping for nothing in return; and your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High. For He is kind to the unthankful and evil. Therefore be merciful, just as your Father also is merciful."

In the Parable of the Good Samaritan, mercy is connected to the neighbor. The Lord Jesus asks, "Which of these three (i.e., the priest, the Levite, or the Samaritan) do you think was neighbor to him who fell among the thieves?" And he said, “He who showed mercy on him.” (Luke 10:36-37).

When Peter asked Jesus, "Lord, how often shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? Up to seven times?" Jesus said to him, “I do not say to you, up to seven times, but up to seventy times seven" (Matthew 18:21-22). This is mercy tied to forgiveness.

Likewise, when Jesus visited Matthew the Publican in his home and spoke with the Pharisees, mercy is tied to compassion for publicans, for sinners, and for the sick: And when the Pharisees saw it, they said to His disciples, “Why does your Teacher eat with tax collectors and sinners?” When Jesus heard that, He said to them, “Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. But go and learn what this means: ‘I desire mercy and not sacrifice.’ For I did not come to call the righteous, but sinners, to repentance” (Matthew 9: 11-13).

Last but not least, mercy is connected to love, which first of all means control of selfishness. In the end, this requires sacrifice and looking to what benefits the other, to that which secures the establishment of a life of communion between people and real sympathy for others.

Metropolitan of Tripoli, al-Koura and their Dependencies

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