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
Grace, mercy and peace will be with us, from God the Father and from Jesus Christ the Father’s Son, in truth and love. 2 John 1:3
Good morning Prayer Team!
The mercy of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ be with all of you.
The portion of the Divine Liturgy called the “Anaphora” is now coming to an end. The bread and wine that were offered on the altar table are now the Body and Blood of Christ. In prayer, we’ve stated the purpose of receiving them. We have sung a hymn of praise to the Virgin Mary. We’ve remembered our leaders, both civil leaders and our Hierarch. We’ve called to mind our families and friends and anyone in need of prayer. And we’ve asked that God will grace us to come together with one voice and with one heart to glorify and praise Him.
As we close off this section of the Liturgy and begin to transition to the time when we receive the Gifts that have been consecrated, there is one more liturgical act in the Anaphora, and that is a blessing. “All of you” can pertain to two groups of people. Obviously, all the people present at the service receive the blessing. And “all of you” pertains to all the people that we called to mind throughout this section of the Liturgy. As we “turn the corner” towards our personal encounter with Christ at Holy Communion, we do so in a sense of unity, that the mercy of our great God and savior Jesus Christ will be with all.
Let us look more closely now at what we are being blessed with. In Greek, the phrase is “ta elei,” meaning “the mercies” of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ to be with all of us. “Mercy” means the bestowing of something we don’t deserve. So, when God bestows mercy on us, He is giving us something we don’t deserve. The use of this word in the plural is a recognition that we need a lot of mercy from God, and we need His mercies in many ways, not only individually but collectively.
Since we’ve called to mind many different people, who all need different kinds of mercy, we ask for “mercies” in the plural. We need God to forgive our shortcomings. We need His grace to endure setbacks. We need His wisdom to make good decisions. We need His energies in many different ways for the many complex things that happen in our lives.
Of course, God in His infinite goodness, bestows mercy upon all. Everyone has an opportunity to receive mercy from God. In spiritual terms, there is no such thing as equality before God. All have infinite value in His eyes. Thus, His mercy is bestowed on all because He infinitely values each of us.
The response of the people to this blessing from the priest is two-fold. We bow our heads, in recognition and respect of the mercies of God being bestowed on us. And we offer the response “and with your spirit,” to the celebrating priest, recognizing that he also is in need of God’s mercies and praying that the same mercy that will come upon us may come down on him as well.
Lord, thank You for the many gifts You bestow on us. Send Your mercies on me, for the sins I commit, for the shortcomings I have. I recognize that I am in need of the mercy and compassion that can only come from You. Help me also remember to show mercy and compassion on others. Amen.
Receive the blessing of mercy from God. Offer it to others.
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