February 26, 2023 · 9:04 am
Cheesefare Sunday – Matthew 6: 14-21
In her enduring wisdom and love for mankind, the Church provides us with a period of preparation before we enter Great Lent. We have passed through the Sundays of Zacchaeus, the Publican and the Pharisee, the Last Judgment, and now finally with today – the Sunday which commemorates the expulsion of Adam from Paradise.
In each of these preparatory Sundays, forgiveness is at the heart of the Gospel message. In his great zeal to meet the Lord, Zacchaeus confessed his sins and repented by giving back four-fold his ill-gotten gains. The publican asks for forgiveness through his heartfelt “have mercy upon me, a sinner.” The Sunday of the Last Judgment reminds us that Christ will judge us according to the extent that we were merciful and forgiving of others. Finally, Forgiveness Sunday recalls Adam’s sin and more importantly, his unwillingness to ask for forgiveness. Reflecting upon this ancestral sin, Abba Dorotheos writes:
Again, after his fall, God gave him an occasion to repent and to receive mercy, but he kept his stiff neck held high. He came to him and said ‘Adam, Where are you?’ instead of saying ‘What glory you have left and what dishonour you have arrived at?’ After that, He asked him ‘Why did you sin? Why did you transgress the commandment?’ By asking these questions, He wanted to give him the opportunity to say, ‘Forgive me.’ However, he did not ask for forgiveness. There was no humility, there was no repentance, but indeed the opposite. (Practical Teaching on the Christian Life) Continue reading →
February 26, 2023 · 8:48 am
The Sunday of Forgiveness is the last Sunday prior to the commencement of Great Lent. During the pre-Lenten period, the services of the Church include hymns from the Triodion, a liturgical book that contains the services from the Sunday of the Publican and the Pharisee, the tenth before Pascha (Easter), through Great and Holy Saturday.
On the Sunday of Forgiveness focus is placed on the exile of Adam and Eve from the Garden of Eden, an event that shows us how far we have fallen in sin and separated ourselves from God. At the onset of Great Lent and a period of intense fasting, this Sunday reminds us of our need for God’s forgiveness and guides our hearts, minds, and spiritual efforts on returning to Him in repentance.
Even in His agony on the Cross the Lord Jesus did not condemn sinners, but held up before His Father forgiveness for their sins, saying: ‘they know not what they do!’ Let us judge no man, that we be not condemned. For no-one is certain that he will not, before his death, commit that very sin for which he has condemned his brother.
St Anastasius of Sinai teaches: ‘If you see someone sinning, do not condemn him, for you do not know how he will finish his life. That thief crucified with Christ was a murderer, and Judas was an apostle of Christ’s, but the thief entered Paradise and Judas went to perdition.
If you see someone sin, you do not know his good works. For many sin in public and repent in private, and we see their sin but do not know of their repentance. Therefore, my brethren, let us condemn no man, that we be not condemned.’