imagesElder Cleopa of Sihastria – On the mercy of God – a sermon at the Twentieth Sunday after Pentecost

And  the Lord, took pity on her and said: Cry no more! (Luke 7, 13)

Dear faithful,

Neither the widow woman from Nain city, nor anyone of the many who went to the tomb to bare her son, have asked the Savior to make that glorious miracle: to resurrect the son’s widow and give him to his mother. But our Savior himself, Jesus Christ, seeing her crying, took pity on her, as the Divine Gospel narrates today: And the Lord seeing her, took pity on  her (Luke 7, 13). God’s mercy is one of the characteristics of God’s wisdom (James 3, 17).

All the attributes of God, are divine of nature and not partaken from elsewhere  (St. John Damascene, Dogmatics, Book I-A, C. 14, p. 51). Like the other attributes of God, his mercy has no end. And the Holy Spirit is entrusting us: Higher than that heaven is your mercy (Psalm 107, 4; I Chronicles 16, 34, II Chronicles 5, 13, 20, 21).

We all know that the greatest compassion and mercy of God was shown forth by sending His Son to earth to save mankind from the bitter slavery of the devil (Luke 1, 77-78, Ephesians 2, 4 -6, Titus 3, 5, I Peter 1, 3). Therefore God is known as the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort (II Corinthians 1, 3).

All nations are due to glorify God for his mercy (Romans 15, 9, Isaiah 30, 18). God’s mercy is from age to age to those who fear him (Psalm 102, 17).

When our merciful Savior has raised the widow of Nain’s son, through this glorious miracle brought unspeakable joy and fear to the mother of the risen child as well as to all who were present, that they gave glory to God, saying: Great prophet has risen among us… and God sought his people (ad. from Luke 7, 16). But does God’s mercy shows only in one place and only at one time to the human race? No, not at all.

 “The endless and bottomless ocean” of the mercy of God has worked and works in every place and at all times on all creation, as divine Scripture says: His mercies are over all his things (Psalm 144, 9). Who hasn’t seen, when summer drought and heat threatens people and their pets, – as the Scripture testifies: high drought makes the sky like iron and the earth like copper (Leviticus 26, 19) – and all creatures on earth start to feel the lack of water and food; that once the priests gather people and make prayers for rain and Holy Unction in churches, fields and gardens, – clouds begin to arise in the sky. Then you hear thunder, and lightning are seen from east to west until drops of rein start falling, wetting the plains and gardens and bringing great joy to people, plants and all living creatures of the earth.

Who doesn’t know or doesn’t see in this, God’ mercy and love for people? Who of the faithful – who fears God, does not tank from the heart the Merciful and Almighty God for His mercy on his creatures? (…)

And thus, God, as Scripture notes, Rains on the just and on the unjust and sends the sun over the good and the wicked (ad. form Matthew 5, 45).

Sometimes, for their sins, God allows to come over people heavy disease without cure or hard to be healed by doctors. But by prayer and Holy Unction in churches or in Christian’ homes, diseases are cured through faith and people are healed, giving thanks to the Merciful God who challenged, but did not delivered them to death.

Other times, great disturbances and wars rise up between nations that bring death to thousands and millions. But, if people remember God and return to Him wholeheartedly with prayer and fasting, then the Merciful and Almighty God, overblown disorders, extinguishes wars and brings peace between people. For the Lord is merciful and listens to all who pray for world’ peace and unification of his children. He is King of Peace (Isaiah 9, 5) and blesses those who love peace, saying: Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be  called sons of God (Matthew 5, 9).

(…)

Therefore, my brothers, meditating on the mercy of God, let us be merciful to our brothers hit by so many sufferings, because they are people just like us. In this, we obey the Lord given commandment: Be merciful as your Father is merciful (Luke 6, 36). Let us remember that by working the acts of mercy, we do good for our souls, as the testimony says: The merciful man works good for his soul, and the unmerciful, loses his body (Proverbs 11, 17).

When we want to do acts of mercy, let us be in good heart and joyful, giving to the poor and afflicted, and remembering that the fruit of the righteous man is the fruit of “mercy” (Proverbs 19, 22) and if someone works mercy to be  with Goodwill (Romans 12, 8). We must also know that God’ mercy is present everywhere, but especially in His long lasting patience (Jeremiah 9, 47, Psalm 77, 42, Isaiah 30, 18). And God’s mercy is sparing the wicked, because of the righteous.

He who wants to understand this clearly, will have to read the Holy Scripture about the blessed patriarch Abraham conversation with God on the loss of Sodom (Genesis 18, 23-33). Again, lighted by the testimony of Holy Scripture, we see that God’s mercy is shown to those who abandon evil deeds and repent of their sins. (…)

The right attitude for us Orthodox towards the mercy of God is this: to strive to do every good work, to hope in God’s mercy not in our good deeds, and in times of falling into sin, to dispair not of His mercy – that will always help us towards salvation. Let us remember that if God is merciful to us, we owe to our fellow man mercy. (…)

May the good Lord grant us His great mercy and compassion to help us gain forgiveness and Celestial kingdom that will have no end. Amen.

(Translated from the Romanian by EC)