SAN FRANCISCO, February 21, 2013 – To the unstudied eye, St. Matthew’s Gospel can seem a terse narrative, almost a historical document, and not the tremendously spiritual and doctrinal storehouse that it is. However, in the book Fire of Mercy, Heart of the Word, the third volume of meditations on Matthew (chapters 19-25) by Brother Simeon, O.C.S.O. (formerly Erasmo Leiva-Merikakis), readers discover Matthew’s Gospel in a different light. Matthew’s prose is not terse so much as economical – astoundingly so, given its depth. The lay reader can derive great profit from reading this. Each short meditation comments on a verse or two, pointing to some facet of the text not immediately apparent, but rich with meaning.
Brother Simeon’s work is scholarly but eminently approachable by the lay reader. The tone is very much of “taste and see how good the Lord is” and an invitation of “friend, come up higher!” The goal of the book is to help the reader experience the heat of the divine Heart and the light of the divine Word. The author addresses both the objective and subjective levels of the Word of God – both what it is in itself and what impact it ought to have in our lives.
Throughout Fire of Mercy, Heart of the Word, Brother Simeon comments on the Greek text, demonstrating nuances in the text that defy translation. He uses numerous quotes from the Fathers and the Liturgy of the Church to demonstrate the way the Tradition has lived and read the Word of God. His theological reflection vivifies doctrine by seeking its roots in the words and actions of Jesus.
The profound meditations in Fire of Mercy, Heart of the Word show that ultimately the text of the Gospel serves only one purpose: to make possible a living encounter with the person of Jesus Christ, an encounter that is wholly life-transforming. Every effort, therefore, has been made throughout the commentary to show how the presence of Christ in the world has changed the very nature of both history and human experience.
Thomas Howard, author of Chance or Dance?, says, “These reflections on Matthew open out onto such staggering vistas of radiance – or shall I say rather, penetrate to such mother lodes of treasure – that one is brought to a halt, over and over: rebuked, instructed, illuminated, and searched.”
John Saward, author of The Beauty of Holiness, says, “Fire of Mercy has become a classic of Catholic culture. It is certainly original, like no other meditation on the Scriptures you will ever read.”
“This is a biblical commentary with scholarship and, above all, a prayerfulness that is a great gift to the Church. Lectio divina comes naturally to this author. I cherish this commentary dearly,” says Sr. Wendy Beckett, OCD.
About the Author
Brother Simeon (Erasmo Leiva-Merikakis) obtained his Ph.D. in Comparative Literature and Theology from Emory University. Formerly a Professor of Literature and Theology at the University of San Francisco, he is now a Trappist monk at St. Joseph’s Abbey in Spencer, Massachusetts. In addition to Volumes 1 & 2 of Fire of Mercy, he is the author of several other books including The Way of the Disciple and Love’s Sacred Order.