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||    Pope Shenouda    ||    Father Matta    ||    Bishop Mattaous    ||    Fr. Tadros Malaty    ||    Bishop Moussa    ||    Bishop Alexander    ||    Habib Gerguis    ||    Bishop Angealos    ||    Metropolitan Bishoy    ||

Dealing with the Weak


God knows that people are not at the same level,

some are strong and others are weak; and dealing

with each of them differs from the other. For this

reason the Bible says about dealing with the weak:

"Comfort the fainthearted, uphold the weak,

be patient with all" (1Th 5:14).


This verse includes three spiritual elements:

comforting, upholding and patience. The reason

behind stating this commandment may be that many

people do not endure the weakness of the weak. That

is why St. Paul the Apostle says in his Epistle to the

Romans: "We then who are strong ought to bear with

the scruples of the weak and not to please ourselves"

(Ro 15:1).

How easy it is for people to criticize the weak and

undermine them whereas the strength is in enduring

those weak and encouraging them to get rid of their


􀀿 􀀿 􀀿

How beautiful is the prophecy which was said

about Jesus Christ in the Book of Isaiah:

"The Spirit of the Lord God is upon Me,

because the Lord has anointed Me to preach

good tidings to the poor; He has sent Me to heal

the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the

captives, and the opening of the prison to those

who are bound" (Is 61:1).

It is a special concern by God towards the poor,

the brokenhearted and the weak.

And at this point we remember the saying of St.

Paul the Apostle "Remember the prisoners as if

chained with them--those who are mistreated--since

you yourselves are in the body also" (He 13:3), which

means not to be haughty with those people nor

despise them rather feel as if you yourselves also are

under the same trials and bounds of the body.

One of the Saints used to weep on seeing a

brethren falling into sin, and when asked why are you

crying? He then remembers the activeness of the

devil and says "If Satan was able to make my

brother fall in sin today, he might make me fall

in sin tomorrow. And this brother may repent

while I may not!!"

􀀿 􀀿 􀀿

With this feeling of tenderheartedness towards

the sinners and the weak, Saints were administering.

Jesus Christ Himself didn't mind responding to the

invitation of the tax collectors and the sinners; He

visited them and was kindhearted to them. When the

Pharisees-in their pride, criticized what Jesus did He

answered them saying: "Those who are well have

no need of a physician, but those who are sick"

(Mt 9:12, 13).

With this same spirit he entered the house of

Zacchaeus the tax collector and when the Jews

grumbled about His entering to a sinner's house He

answered "Today salvation has come to this house,

because he also is a son of Abraham; for the Son of

Man has come to seek and to save that which was

lost" (Lk 19:9, 10).

And Jesus also allowed the sinful woman to wash

His feet with her tears, wiping them with the hair of

her head when he was at the house of Simon the

Pharisee who in turn didn't like this, God said to Him

"her sins, which are many, are forgiven, for she loved

much" (Lk 7:47) and showed to the Pharisee how this

repenting woman was better than him.

􀀿 􀀿 􀀿

I remember here what the Mahatma Gandhi

of India had done with the outcasts:

Those were rejected and contemned by the Indian

Society that if the shadow of one of them falls on one

of a Hindus he is then defiled. So Gandhi, the great

spiritual leader, went and resided in that outcasts’

district. That was not it; he also demanded that they

should have membership in the Indian Parliament

when India achieved its independence. And that is

how he treated the weak and the despised.

􀀿 􀀿 􀀿

In the Jews society, the Gentiles and the

Samaritans were considered outcasts, but Jesus

Christ dealt with all of them with excessive

tenderness and attracted them to Himself…

Concerning the Samaritans, Jesus gave the Jews

the Parable of the Good Samaritan whom, with his

love, was better than the Priest and the Levite who

were Jews (Lk 10:25-37). He also gave them the

Parable of the Pharisee and the tax collector saying

that the tax collector went down to his house justified

rather than the other (Lk 18:14).

􀀿 􀀿 􀀿

About the weak, we remember the saying of

the Bible "comfort the fainthearted".

So who are the fainthearted? They are those

whom are rapidly torn out and get confused quickly,

they also are the ones who fear, weaken, collapse

and may become desperate; they are in a constant

need of external help…

In dealing with such kinds of people we say in our

prayers about the Lord that he is "the help of those

who have no helper; the hope of those who have no

hope; the harbor of those in the storm", which means

that He is the hope of those who are like inside a boat

in a storm and have no helper. It reminds us of the


"A bruised reed He will not break and

smoking flax He will not quench" (Mt 12:20).

􀀿 􀀿 􀀿

Therefore, it was mentioned in the Book of

Zechariah the Prophet when the High Priest stood to

save Joshua the Priest from Satan that he told him:

"The Lord rebuke you, Satan! The Lord… rebuke you!


Is this not a brand plucked from the fire?" (Zec 3:2).

So what is the meaning of "a brand plucked from the

fire"? It means that it is like a piece of wood which fell

into fire inside the flames yet it did not turn into

charcoal or ashes, it then found someone who was

able to rescue it from the fire while it was flaming…

This reminds us with what Jude the Apostle said

"others save with fear, pulling them out of the fire"

(Jd 23).

􀀿 􀀿 􀀿

And so, if you find a desperate person, don't

despise his desperation …

And don't say about him that he has a weak and

incompetent personality; you should rather encourage

him and get him out of his despair. If you find a torn

out person, don't despise his weakness but help him

through it.

The man who was healed at the Pool of Bethesda

(Jn 5) had been thirty eight years in his sickness and

didn't find anyone to put him into the pool, God didn't

permit that he becomes desperate in spite of all these

long years with no healing and no help. It was

something which was really worth desperation yet

God finally saved and healed him.

􀀿 􀀿 􀀿

Jacob the father of all fathers feared of his

brother Esau and ran away from him.

Esau symbolized the physical strength,

forcefulness and violence and on the other hand

Jacob represented weakness, fear and fleeing. God

appeared to the poor Jacob who was fearful

encouraging him and saying "I am with you and will

keep you wherever you go, and will bring you back to

this land" (Gn 28:15). God kept encouraging him till

he saved Jacob from his brother and also blessed


And so were the people frightened from

Pharaoh who sought after them while fleeing by

the seaside:

They were desperate and frightened, but Moses-in

his deep faith-didn't contemn the fear of the people,

he rather encouraged them saying "Do not be afraid.

Stand still, and see the salvation of the Lord, which

He will accomplish for you today…The Lord will fight

for you, and you shall hold your peace" (Ex 14:13,


􀀿 􀀿 􀀿

Even the tree which didn't bear fruit for

years, there was a suggestion to cut it down, why

does it use up the ground?! But the tender heart said

"let it alone this year also, until I dig around it and

fertilize it. And if it bears fruit, well. But if not, after

that you can cut it down" (Lk 13:8, 9). It’s the

longsuffering of the Lord towards sinners.

God doesn't take people in their weakness or

while they are in sin, otherwise mankind would have

been demolished, but as was mentioned in Psalm


"He has not dealt with us according to our sins,

nor punished us according to our iniquities. For

as the heavens are high above the earth, so

great is His mercy toward those who fear Him;

As far as the east is from the west, so far has He

removed our transgressions from us ".

And why is that? The Psalm continues and says

"For He knows our frame; He remembers that we are

dust". Indeed, had it not been for God's longsuffering

towards the sinners and the weak; the whole world

would have been demolished, the riches of God's

longsuffering and His goodness lead to repentance

(Ro 2:4).

􀀿 􀀿 􀀿

On giving the sinner a chance to repent; you are

helping him with longsuffering as the Bible says "Be

patient with the weak". But if you despise the sinner,

reject and abandon him; this could throw him into

despair continuing in his sin and will be defeated, but

if you are patient with him and if you help him then

you are- as the Bible says- "who turns a sinner from

the error of his way will save a soul from death and

cover a multitude of sins".

It is an easy job to just ignore the sinners, but

having sympathy for them and helping them is a

moral behavior which testifies for the work of the

heart and the will.

The woman caught in adultery, God didn't

despise her and didn't throw her out, He didn't

order that she should be stoned to death; He

rather was compassionate with her and saved

her (Jn 8).

􀀿 􀀿 􀀿

God treated sinners with His longsuffering for a

long time till they repented and became Saints.

Others, God didn't take them in their time of

weakness but He saved them from their weakness.

The Lord dealt with Peter with longsuffering when

he denied Him three times, He then met him after the

resurrection and said to him "Feed My lambs. Tend

My sheep" (Jn 21:15-17).

God also didn't take Thomas in his doubt about

the resurrection, He appeared to him and showed him

His wounds; by that He led him to believing (Jn


"Uphold the weak" because they need an

external help. "Be patient with all" because for

the sinner to come out of his fall, it might need

some time…

It would not just happen in a moment that a

sinner could repent of his fall which is having control

over him. He will need some time during which we

should be patient with him.

􀀿 􀀿 􀀿

The word "the weak" might also entails

those who are weak in their talents and

capabilities. As Moses said –when God called him- I

am slow of speech and slow of tongue, I am not

eloquent (Ex 4:10). And once more he said "I am of

uncircumcised lips" (Ex 6:30). But God encouraged

him and aided him through Aaron his brother…

And so did Jeremiah when he said "I cannot

speak, for I am a youth" (Jr 1:6), God encouraged

him saying "For behold, I have made you this day a

fortified city and an iron pillar…They will fight against

you, but they shall not prevail against you. For I am

with you," says the Lord, to deliver you" (Jr 1:18,


And so is any person who fears the spiritual life;

we should not despise him rather deliver him out of

his fears, if he is concerned about life of devotion or

of serving then we should encourage him.

Joshua got frightened after Moses' death, but God

encouraged him saying: "No man shall be able to

stand before you all the days of your life; as I was

with Moses, so I will be with you. I will not leave you

nor forsake you. Be strong and of good courage" (Js

1:5, 6).

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