I’ve been looking forward to this day for a many weeks, maybe even months. I sometimes ache for it. See, this day happens every single year within the liturgical calendar of the Orthodox Church. Today is what we call Forgiveness Sunday. Today is the day before Great Lent begins.
During Liturgy today we read Matthew 6: 14-21, as we do every year on this day before Great Lent.
For if you forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you.Matthew 6:14-21
But if you do not forgive men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.
Moreover, when you fast, do not be like the hypocrites, with a sad countenance. For they disfigure their faces that they may appear to men to be fasting. Assuredly, I say to you, they have their reward.
But you, when you fast, anoint your head and wash your face,
so that you do not appear to men to be fasting, but to your Father who is in the secret place; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you openly.
Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal; but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal.
For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.
Every single day our Lord calls on us. He desires our whole life. But do we listen? We humans are very good at forgetting and we are very good at being busy and chaotic. So the church in her infinite wisdom created this time where we are urged to slow down, repent, listen, pray, give alms, and fast that we may find our way back home. And today, scripture reminds us to forgive and to fast (in secret) so that we may more easily “lay up for ourselves treasures in heaven.”
I am beyond grateful for this call to slow down. I am grateful for this call to work towards my salvation, working my way closer to my Jesus.
This hymn is sung tonight at Vespers as we prepare to move into Great Lent:
The great sea of the fast brings us to His Resurrection, the greatest, most amazing victory!
But even though we begin this journey and our tone changes for the 8 weeks through lent, one of somber repentance and hard work, we also never lose sight of the end goal. His glorious Resurrection! Weekends are still meant for victory and resurrection. Each Sunday we sing about His triumph over death and pain and evil. We cannot forget.
Let us rejoice knowing our Lord has risen, He is always and forever with us, and He deeply loves us and yearns for our whole life!
May you have a blessed day of our Lord and if you are entering into Great Lent may it be a journey full of joy and blessings and much fruit!
Please forgive me, my friends, of any hurt or offence. God forgives us all.