“Be ye also merciful, as your Father is also merciful.” (Luke 6:36)
What is it to love someone truly and profoundly? It is to open the gates of our hearts in overwhelming streams of unselfish and merciful love pouring out towards our beloved. It is to become so forgetful of ourselves that we are lost in self- awareness except in the act of giving, and then becoming more than we can imagine while lost in this giving. This great love, this great outpouring, this great giving of our self is an image of God, because God Himself has revealed to us that He is Love Itself. The first and most visible aspect of this great love is to give mercy without measure, and the best way to begin this journey of great love is to give our love back to Jesus Christ Our Lord, and then by extension to give love with great mercy to others.
In Great Lent we are encouraged to increase three things: fasting, prayer, and merciful alms-giving. Fasting can be both outward and inward and is personal, prayer can also be outward and inward and also is relational toward God and others but then is inside our hearts, but merciful alms-giving is always engaged with others, often in a direct and visible outward way.
In this Lenten Season let us give to others from our heart, and more than just superficially, more than just from our abundance, more than just on an easy path, but with “philotimo”, a Greek word that the recent elder of Mount Athos Saint Paisios (1924-1994) often used and encouraged all of us to do. It is when we are filled with love, humility, and hospitality. It is a state of heart that cares with painful intensely while giving abundantly of ourselves and what we have in love to others. O Lord Jesus Christ, Who suffered in such great love for us, may we find and use this “philotimo” love today in mercy!
“Blessed are the merciful: for they shall obtain mercy.” (Matt 5:7)
The Monastics at St. Isaac of Syria Skete
and at the Convent of St. Silouan
and the Faithful at St. Nicholas Church
and the Staff at Orthodox Byzantine Icons and St. Isaac’s Bookstore