May 1, 2013

Holy Wednesday - The Freedom of Love

By Protopresbyter Themistoklis Mourtzanos

Holy Wednesday is an occasion for the Church to remember the sinful woman who smeared Christ's feet with myrrh and tears, wiped them with her hair, and received from God the forgiveness of her sins. In the Matins of the day we chanted the Troparion of Kassiani, a great hymnographer of the 9th century, in which she refers to "the woman who had fallen into many sins". But there are also a series of other poetic hymns that testify to the fact that love for Christ genuinely frees mankind.

In one of the Aposticha hymns of Matins we read a phrase that has a lot to say: "She who was desperate because of her life and was well known for her way of life came to Thee carrying myrrh and crying." Our life is sinful. We court and experience sin in every moment of our lives, or we do our will and rely on our ego, or we reject the presence of Christ in our lives. And not only this, but we most often do not realize how much Christ loves us, so that we despise His presence completely, refusing even to hear His message.

The sinful woman was desperate, that is, she was hopeless in her life. Though she was desperate in her way of life, she knew well what the path of salvation was. Her love for Jesus showed the path of true freedom. Because love makes us humble. Love makes us understand that we need sadness for what separates us from Christ and repentance to bring us back to Him. Love helps us to see that we cannot be self-sufficient, but we need Christ. Love is what makes us dare to approach Him. To forgive that we may be forgiven. To well with tears of sensitivity in our hearts for all, and also for ourselves. Let us fall at the feet of our Redeemer in search of a new beginning.

Our times has power and strength as a reference point. He who loves does not mean much today. Even love is trapped in the logic of self-sufficiency and enjoyment and becomes selfishness for many. Our Church proposes the love that liberates. The love of the Cross and the Resurrection, because Christ is love. But those who followed Him, with the sinful woman who is at the center of this day, experienced love and the joy of true freedom.

Knowledge does not free man, nor pleasures, nor the power of technology, nor money, nor a warm body. Nor is philanthropy and social solidarity a redemptive power. They contribute, but they do not face our deep existential needs. Only genuine communion with Christ leads to the awareness of freedom. Only one tear is needed, together with the silence of repentance, forgiveness, and the offering of one's self. In the end, His presence will be in our lives.

Source: Translated by John Sanidopoulos