Fr. Stavros N. Akrotirianakis is the Proistamenos of St. John Greek Orthodox Church in Tampa, FL. Fr. contributes the Prayer Team Ministry, a daily reflection, which began in February 2015, has produced two books, “Let All Creation Rejoice: Reflections on Advent, the Nativity and Epiphany” and “The Road Back to Christ: Reflections on Lent, Holy Week and the Resurrection.”
Listen Now. We will now be including the daily reading of Epistle and Gospel with The Prayer Team.
Blessed are the merciful, for they shall obtain mercy. Matthew 5:7
Good morning Prayer Team!
Mercy is one quality that is sorely missing in the world today. The business world is built around hard work, will to succeed and survival of the fittest. How can one be successful in business and be merciful at the same time? Seems like a conflict in terms.
What is mercy? Mercy is what lessens the gap created by sin. There is a gap between us and God, and there are gaps between us and our neighbor. And these are the result of sin. Mercy is how we lessen the gap between us and our neighbor. God’s mercy on us is what lessens the gap between us and Him. This is why the pre-eminent prayers in the church revolve around mercy:
Holy God, Holy Mighty, Holy Immortal, Have MERCY on us. (Trisagion Prayer)
Lord have MERCY.
Lord, Jesus Christ, Son of God, have MERCY on me a sinner (Jesus Prayer)
The journey of Great Lent is based on the mercies of God:
Open to me the doors of repentance, O Giver of Life. . .But in your compassion purify me by the loving-kindness of your mercy.
When I think of the many evil things I have done, wretch that I am, I tremble at the fearful day of judgment, but trusting in Your loving-kindness, like David I cry out to You. Have mercy on me, O God, according to your great compassion. (Hymns of Sunday Orthros during Great Lent and Triodion)
There is a connection between Mercy (Elaios in Greek) and oil (Elaion in Greek). In the ancient world, oil was medicinal, used to soothe and comfort wounds. Mercy is used by God to soothe and comfort our spiritual wounds. That’s why Holy Unction is administered with “Elaion” (oil), the sign of mercy and healing from God.
Mercy is not a right. It is a GIFT from God to us that we do not necessarily deserve. It is a gift that we are supposed bestow on our neighbor, whether he deserves it or not. We are supposed to be merciful to others. In the parable of the Good Samaritan (Luke 10: 25-37), the good neighbor is the one who showed mercy on the man who was beaten and robbed. In Matthew 18: 22-35, a man owes a large sum of money to his master, who forgives the debt. Then that man’s servant who owes him a little money, he doesn’t forgive. So the master of the first servant throws him in jail because he didn’t show mercy after receiving it.
The most difficult dimension of mercy is forgiveness, showing mercy to our neighbor who has wronged us. But this is exactly what we need from the Lord, His mercy to overlook our wrongs. The goal in offering mercy is to offer it graciously and generously, without expecting anything in return. If we cultivate this virtue of being merciful to others, then this is a gift that the Lord will bestow on us graciously as well. Being merciful means praying for your enemies, it means not nagging people over small things. It means being easy to entreat and easy to forgive, just as the Lord is easy to entreat and easy to forgive.
Lord, thank You for the mercies which you are always showing me in my life. The very gift of another day is a sign of Your mercy. Every good and perfect gift that You bestow on my life is an act of mercy. Thank You for all of these gifts. Help me to be merciful to my neighbor. Help me to forgive easily. Help me to not be bothered by little annoyances. Extend Your mercy to me over my wrongdoings. Remember ___________(names of people who bother you) and help me to show mercy on them. Amen.
Thank God for His mercies on you today! Show mercy to others!
With Roger Hunt providing today’s Daily Reading: Listen Now.
These readings are under copyright and is used by permission. All rights reserved. These works may not be further reproduced, in print or on other websites or in any other form, without the prior written authorization of the copyright holder: Reading © Holy Transfiguration Monastery – Brookline, MA, Apolytikion of Abbot Marcellus © Narthex Press, Kontakion of Abbot Marcellus © Holy Transfiguration Monastery – Brookline, MA.
The Revised Standard Version of the Bible is copyrighted 1946, 1952, 1971, and 1973 by the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the U.S.A. and used by permission. From the Online Chapel of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America.
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