Coptic Orthodox Diocese of the Southern United States

My Sympathy is Stirred

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Keraza Magazine issue 41-42 October 28, 2017

God reacted to Israel backsliding away from Him and their subjection to correction: "My heart churns within Me; My sympathy is stirred" (Hosea 11:8). God's churning heart over Israel, and His stirring sympathy, express an effective powerful dynamic movement from God towards man. It does not simply bear compassionate divine actions, but is an actual stirring of the origin of mercy in God's nature. This origin of mercy is the Son, whom the priest addresses in the fraction to the Son: "O You, the Being, who is eternal, who is without beginning, before all ages, the co-enthroned with the Father, who is one with Him in Lordship, the origin of mercy, who desired of His own will to suffer instead of sinners, of whom I am first." This means that the Son, who was born of the Father before all ages, and of the Virgin in the fullness of time, is the origin of divine mercy, who through His incarnation, death, and resurrection, preached and witnessed to the Father's mercy. When Zechariah the priest was filled with the Holy Spirit, and prophesied his son John the Baptist's message, he said, "To give knowledge of salvation to His people by the remission of their sins, through the tender mercy of our God, with which the Dayspring from on high has visited us" (Luke 1:77-78). If the forgiveness of sin occurred through the Son on the cross, then the phrase, "the tender mercy of our God," is synonymous to "the Son." The words of St. Paul the Apostle: "Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort" (2 Corinthians 1:3), are vividly clear that Christ is Himself Mercy. Likewise, we pray in the Third Hour Litany, asking the Virgin: "Open to us the gate of mercy." What gate of mercy can St. Mary open to us, except her Son who was incarnate of her for our salvation?

This means that, beginning from the sin of Adam, even until the sin of the last person on the face of the earth, God's reaction is one towards all those sins: "His sympathy is stirred," that is, the stirring of His Son towards fallen humanity through His salvific work. For this reason, the adroit Church Fathers inspired by the Holy Spirit insisted on repeating, "Lord have mercy" frequently in all liturgical prayers, the hourly prayers, and the daily psalmody, rather, they specified the Jesus Prayer to be the Arrow Prayer asking mercy day and night from the Lord Jesus Christ. As though, through our frequent cry to God at all times asking mercy, we continually confront our accumulated sins, through a prayer which in its essence rushes seeks to gain for our souls the work of the Son, the origin of mercy in the Holy Trinity.

And now, what can we do but to cry out again:
O my Lord Jesus Christ, the origin of mercy, have mercy on me.
O my Lord Jesus Christ, the tender mercies of our God, have mercy on me.
O my Lord Jesus Christ, the gate of mercy, have mercy on me.

Bishop Youssef
Bishop, Coptic Orthodox Diocese of the Southern United States

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