Sunday, February 18, 2018

Homily on Forgiveness Sunday (St. John of Kronstadt)

By St. John of Kronstadt

"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, says the Lord" (Matt. 6:14-15).

This Sunday is called Forgiveness Sunday, because today the Church directs us to read the Gospel teaching us to forgive the transgressions of others so that our heavenly Father might also forgive us our innumerable transgressions. For that reason, from the ancient times, among the pious Christians there has been a custom, in this day, and during any day of the Cheesefare week, to ask forgiveness from each other, in those things in which they may have sinned one against another. This is a beautiful, truly Christian custom, for who does not sin against his neighbor in word, deed, or thought; and asking forgiveness from another person proves our faith in Gospel, our humility, our meekness and love of peace; on the contrary, the unwillingness to ask forgiveness from those, before whom we are really guilty, reveals in the one who is unwilling to make peace, a lack of faith, pride, conceit, remembrance of evil, disobedience to the Gospel, resistance to God, agreement with the devil. Whereas we all are children of our heavenly Father by grace, members of Christ God, members of one body of the Church, which is His body, and members of one another; God is love 1), and more than any whole-burnt offerings and sacrifices, requires from us mutual love, that love, which is "long-suffering and kind, does not envy, does not make a vain display of itself, does not boast, does not behave itself unseemly, seeks not its own, is not easily provoked, thinks no evil, rejoices not over iniquity, but rejoices in the truth. Bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things and never fails" 2). The entire Law of God consists of two words: love God and love your neighbor. With all that, the human heart is extremely selfish, impatient, self-willed, malicious and remembering of evil: it is ready to get angry at its neighbor not only for a direct evil, but also for an imaginary one, not only for an offensive word, but also for an unpleasant, or a harsh one, or even for a look, which appeared bad, or ambiguous, malicious, prideful, it almost gets angry even at the imagined thoughts of those around it. The Lord, Who sees the hearts, thus says of a human heart: "from within, out of the heart of men, proceed evil thoughts, adulteries, fornications, murders, thefts, covetousness, wickedness, deceit, lasciviousness, an evil eye, blasphemy, pride, foolishness" 3).

Homily for Cheesefare Sunday (St. Ignatius Brianchaninov)

By St. Ignatius Brianchaninov

Beloved brethren! We have already reached the very gates of the holy fast! They are even now about to open before us! Already, according to the typicon of the Holy Church, we hear the instruction of our Lord Jesus Christ read to us today in the Holy Gospels about the correct way to begin the podvig of fasting.

Forgiveness Day! Heavenly Day! (St. Theophan the Recluse)

By St. Theophan the Recluse

"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" (Matt. 6:14–15). What a simple and handy means of salvation! Your trespasses are forgiven under the condition that you forgive the trespasses of your neighbor against you. This means that you are in your own hands. Force yourself to pass from agitated feelings toward your brother to truly peaceful feelings — and that is all. Forgiveness day — what a great heavenly day of God this is! If all of us used it as we ought, this day would make Christian societies into heavenly societies, and the earth would merge with heaven.

On Those Who Do Not Accept Our Forgiveness (Abba Poemen)

Abba Betimius asked Abba Poemen, saying, "If a man be angry with me, and I express my contrition, and he will not accept it, what am I to do ?" The old man said unto him, "Take with you two of your friends, and express your contrition in their presence." And the old man Betimius said unto him, "And if he will not be persuaded to accept it then?" And Abba Poemen answered and said, "Take with you five others." And Abba Betimius answered and said, "And if he will not be persuaded by these?" Abba Poemen said, "Then take with you a priest." And Abba Betimius said, "And if he will not be persuaded then?" Abba Poemen said unto him, "Without anger and without excitement pray unto God that he may put into his mind the desire for peace, and straightway you shall have no further care." 

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Let the world lament bitterly with our first ancestors,
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Homily for the Wednesday of Cheesefare (St. Theodore the Studite)

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