December 14, 2021

Homilies on the Holy Mysteries - The Mystery of Repentance (Metr. Hierotheos of Nafpaktos)

The Mystery of Repentance

By Metropolitan Hierotheos of Nafpaktos and Agiou Vlasiou

With Holy Baptism, my beloved brethren, as we saw in another sermon, the image of God in man is purified, man is restored to his former position and ascended even higher, he is united with the second Adam, Christ, and can attain deification. But because human nature has the ability to change its will and even because the devil fights man out of envy, that is why he falls into sin. Thus, our Church has established the mystery of repentance, which is also called a second baptism, because through it man is reborn.

To see the essence of repentance it must be emphasized that sin is not merely a denial of a law, nor a psychological and moral condition, but is the severance of man's relationship with God. When the center and the reference that is God is lost, then the whole man is disorganized, that is, the passions rage, anomalies are created in the family and society, evil also falls on material creation, resulting in anthropological, sociological and ecological problems.

Therefore, repentance is the return of man to God, the restoration of relations with Him, the finding of the real center. Thus, with repentance, man restores his relationship with God, which consequently restores his relationship with himself, the environment and creation as a whole. The powers of the soul and the body, instead of turning to creation, now turn to God, and through God man truly enjoys the whole world, which is a creation of God.

Life outside of God is called by the Holy Fathers an unnatural state, and life with God is characterized as a natural state, because that was the original life of man and for such a life God created man. Thus, the path from the unnatural to the natural, which is the life of repentance, has different stages and different degrees. The first degree is the recognition of the situation in which the devil led us with our free consent. And this recognition is done with the illumination of divine Grace, because only in this way can we understand in what condition we were initially and how sin came to us. The second degree of repentance is the disposition for a change of way of life, for the re-acquisition of communion with God. The third degree of repentance is the confession before the spiritual father, so that on the one hand we receive the remission of sins with the forgiveness prayer, on the other hand we receive the appropriate treatment. And finally, the fourth degree of repentance is the change of life, the correction of life, following the education given to us by the spiritual father and taking the spiritual medicines he has indicated to us.

It is understood that the mystery of repentance is interpreted through terms and conditions of medical science. Whatever is done for the healing of the body, this is also done for the healing of the soul. We must feel our spiritual sickness, seek a spiritual healer, who is Christ and consequently a spiritual father, since Christ offers His Grace through the Clergy who perform the mysteries, and we must be in the disposition to continue throughout our life the real healing that the spiritual father will give us.

All human, social and ecological problems at their core are internal, existential problems. Man gets sick and then the social institutions get sick, but also the whole of creation, because man is related to creation. And when man is healed, through repentance, then creation is restored to its original state. And of course the complete restoration will take place during the Second Coming of Christ, because then death will be completely defeated.

Therefore, we need repentance to reach our natural state.

Source: Translated by John Sanidopoulos.