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. The Prayer Team now has its own dedicated website! Fr. Stavros has produced two books, “Let All Creation Rejoice: Reflections on Advent, the Nativity and Epiphany”: “https://amzn.to/2t1rXwh and “The Road Back to Christ: Reflections on Lent, Holy Week and the Resurrection.” https://amzn.to/2WAcfG0
Listen Now. We will now be including the daily reading of Epistle and Gospel with The Prayer Team.
Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted. Matthew 5:4
Good morning Prayer Team!
Why would Jesus call those who mourn blessed? Isn’t there enough mourning in the world? There is a difference between grieving and mourning. Grief is inner feelings of sorrow that we experience upon a death or loss. Mourning is outward expression of these feelings of grief through tears. Comfort comes not from having inner feelings of sorrow (grief) but in expressing outwardly those feelings of grief through mourning, i.e. tears. Tears of grief begin the healing process. When inner grief is expressed outwardly through mourning (tears), one begins to experience the gift of God’s comfort. Healing comes when tears are shed and shared with a spouse or special friend, or spiritual father (another benefit of confession).
In many writings, we read references to “the gift of tears.” Now, in their perfect state, Adam and Eve did not have tears, nor were they needed. But in leaving Paradise, God gave them the gift of tears as a way to return. Tears are indeed a gift of God. St. John Cassian (4thCentury) suggests four reasons for tears—recollection of one’s sins; contemplation of future glory, tears of joy; fear of hell and judgment; sorrow of the righteous for sins of others.
In Greek, the word “Penthos” is used to refer to “mourning”. Penthos is Godly sorrow that ultimately leads to union with God. “Lipi” (pain) ultimately leads to despair, since it is earthly sorrow. Just as a dirty garment cannot be washed without water, a dirty soul cannot be cleansed without tears. Confession draws out tears many times. Tears are often an answer to guilt as we cry tears of repentance. Great Lent has been described as a time of “gladsome mourning” or “joyful sadness”, because it is a time to repent, and offer tears of repentance.
Tears play a role in the Bible—After denying Christ, Peter went out and wept bitterly, and those tears led to his repentance and forgiveness by the Lord. Peter was then restored and became the leader of the Christian Church. Jesus wept three times—over His friend Lazarus who had died; over the unbelief of Jerusalem; and over the sins of humanity in the Garden of Gethsemane. So tears are a good thing, and those who shed tears of repentance will be comforted. That’s why confession is good, why honest grief is good, and why true repentance is necessary through the guidance of the church (confession, spiritual father) rather than alone.
I can’t tell you how cathartic it is for me to cry tears of repentance in confession. Many people are “too proud to cry,” and I can’t disagree more with them. Tears are a gift from God. If we weren’t meant to cry, He wouldn’t have given us this gift. So cry away—for joy, for sorrow, for hope, for repentance. But don’t cry alone—this is where we must help our neighbors, to hear their sorrows. This is where we must trust in our church—to hear our cries and comfort us.
Lord, help me to see tears as a gift that comes from You. Bring me tears of repentance and inspire me to mourn for past sins. Most of all inspire me to repent of past sins so that I can grow ever closer and more focused on You. Please comfort me in the times when I cry, whether it is over sins or over life’s circumstances. Help me to cry out to You for guidance and healing. Inspire me also to cry out with joy to You, for all the good things in my life. Amen.
Ask God for the “gift of tears” in your prayers today!
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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