Father Rodney Torbic

February 5 / 18, 2018

Forgiveness Sunday

Matthew 6:14-21

For if ye forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you: But if ye forgive not men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses. Moreover when ye fast, be not, as the hypocrites, of a sad countenance: for they disfigure their faces, that they may appear unto men to fast. Verily I say unto you, They have their reward. But thou, when thou fastest, anoint thine head, and wash thy face; That thou appear not unto men to fast, but unto thy Father which is in secret: and thy Father, which seeth in secret, shall reward thee openly. Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and rust doth corrupt, and where thieves break through and steal: But lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal: For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also. (KJV)

Believers choose each year at the beginning of Great Lent whether to begin the Great Fast in the spirit of forgiveness. The Church provides Forgiveness Vespers with the Rite of Forgiveness as a new beginning for all believers.

Great Lent is an opportunity for investment in the Kingdom of God. Great Lent is an opportunity to focus on the condition of the soul. Repentance is of primary importance throughout Great Lent.

Sin is a part of every life. Sins occur consciously. Sins occur due to lack of vigilance. Believers are expected to ward off sin and to battle sin with great vigor. Laxity in faith can be disastrous. Great Lent is a time to repair disasters of the soul.

With the help of God, believers can climb out of depression during Great Lent. With the help of God, believers can start anew on the road to the Kingdom of God. Joy can begin to return to the heart and soul as Great Lent progresses.

Great Lent is not a burden. Great Lent is the time to repair relationships. The relationship with God is primary for believers. The relationship with God is totally linked to the relationships with others…family, friends, co-workers, neighbors.

The First Epistle of St. John states: “He who does not love his brother whom he has seen, how can he love God whom he has not seen?” (I Jn. 4:20) Our salvation is linked to our relationship with God and with relationships in daily life.

Forgiveness involves a willingness to move beyond impasses in relationships and putting forth the effort for a renewal of binding love. We have to look to our own shortcomings when considering others.

The Lord Jesus Christ said: “With what judgment you judge, you will be judged; and with the measure you use, it will be measured back to you.” (Mt. 7:2) Patience is necessary in understanding and forgiving others.

Forgiveness is not always easy. Hurt takes time to dissipate. We cannot only look upon the hurt we may have experienced. We have to think carefully about hurt we may have inflicted on others. Good intentions, at times, can be hurtful.

Words come out the mouth with seemingly good intent. The good intention may be perceived as other than words of comfort or assistance. Moments of serious illness and the death of a loved one can heighten sensitivities.

The words we use must be chosen with great care. More care should be given to word selection than is commonly given. Jesus said: “By your words you will be justified, and by your words you will be condemned.” (Mt. 12:37)

Words can have a stinging effect. Words can have a lasting effect. Words can have a comforting effect. Think of the relief that comes with the words: “You are forgiven!” or the words: “I forgive you.”

Jesus forgave the woman who washed His feet with tears and anointed them with oil. Much was forgiven the sinful woman because she loved much. (Lk. 7:36-50). We all face judgment by Jesus. Now is the time to repent.

Great Lent is the immediate and great opportunity to bare the soul in Holy Confession and to receive the cleansing from Christ. Holy Confession brings renewal and restoration to the Christian.

Holy Communion unites the believer with Christ. Only a certain number of believers come to Holy Confession during Great Lent. Only a certain number of believers partake of the Precious Body and Blood of Christ.

Coming to Holy Confession is a voluntary act. Coming to Holy Confession is an acknowledgement of personal sinfulness and an expression of the desire to draw near to Christ and be united with Christ.

Believers are welcomed at Holy Confession. Christ desires for the sinner to repent. Confession is the time to have the burden of sin lifted and feel the power of Christ at work. The forgiving and merciful Christ awaits the repentant sinner.

Christ came to call sinners to repentance (Mk. 2:17) Sinners heeding the call for repentance will ever be thankful. Better to repent and experience the love and forgiveness of God than to depart this life with hardness of heart and in sin.

Pride is a barrier to repentance. Pride is a barrier to full unity with the Lord Jesus Christ. Pride puts the person first and the relationship with Christ at a lower priority. Pride deters a believer from admitting doing wrong.

Care must be taken not to hold grudges against family members and friends. Grudges prevent forgiveness. The initiative for forgiveness must be taken by someone. The serious believer will be forgiving, difficult though it may be.

If the relationship with Christ is cherished, following Christ’s commandments will also be cherished. The words of Christ are lasting and have everlasting effects. The wise individual does everything possible to heed Christ.

The Lord Jesus Christ said: “Blessed are those who hear the word of God and keep it.” (Lk. 11:28) Serious Christians are sorrowful for their sins. Serious Christians make every effort to keep the word of God.

February 5 / 18, 2018.
No.15 Forgiveness Sunday.
Holy Martyr Agatha.
Holy Polyectus Apodasis of the Meeting of the Lord.

Fr. Rodney Torbic
Hidden Valley, Pennsylvania

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