To the unstudied eye, St. Matthew's Gospel can seem a terse narrative, almost a historical document and not the tremendously spiritual (and doctrinal) storehouse that it is. In his fourth and final volume of meditations on Matthew (chapters 26–28), Father Simeon, formerly Erasmo Leiva-Merikakis, continues to show Matthew's prose to be not so much terse as economical—astoundingly so given its depth. The lay reader can derive great profit from reading this book. Each short meditation comments on a verse or two, pointing to some facet of the text not immediately apparent, but rich with meaning.
Father 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.
Father 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. He shows 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.
‘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."
- John Saward, Author, The Beauty of Holiness
"This is a biblical commentary with scholarship and, above all, a prayerfulness that is a great gift to the Church. "
- Sister Wendy Beckett, OCD
"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."
- Thomas Howard, Author of Chance or Dance?
"No resource has helped me more than this series to enter prayerfully into the heart of the Gospel as a disciple, shepherd and minister of the Word. It opens up the inexhaustible treasure of God's word in such a way that you cannot help but come to know the Lord Jesus, our faith and yourself much better. A work not only for our time but for all time."
- Fr. Roger Landry, Pastor and Chaplain of Catholic Voices USA