12 March 1989
In the Name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Ghost.
Following these weeks of preparation during which we have examined our soul, our lives, all our relationship with God, we enter into the joy of Lent; the JOY (!) of Lent. The word ‘lent’ means “Spring”; it is a beginning, a beginning of life, a time of renewal. It is a time when we will no longer be reminded of our sins, no longer be confronted with parable images of sin and repentance. Instead we will be faced with the names of Saints who have started their lives as we start them: frail, weak, vacillating, but who, by the grace of God, by the power of God, have become what they are. We look to those men, women, children whose triumph we can venerate, in whom we can rejoice, who can serve as examples for us. We can turn to them in our prayers for salvation.
Today we begin this journey. This journey leads us away from our sinful condition to the Resurrection of Christ – the beginning of our own eternal life. We will start on this journey today as the people of Israel started from the land of Egypt to the Promised Land. We are frail and burdened. We are slaves. Yet it’s not by looking back at ourselves, but by looking forward, to the Living God, Who is Life and Salvation, and to Saints who have been victorious by God’s power that we will find courage and inspiration to come to the final victory. Thus we can come to a renewal of our life, which is our ultimate calling and God’s promise to us. We will have to journey together, and we must not have any misconceptions: it will be difficult for us to be companions. However, we will have to depend on and trust each other if we want to achieve our common goal. This dependance can be compared to what the Israelites went through when they were in the desert: not always obedient to God, not always loyal to one another, and yet, needing each other in order to reach the promised goal, to reach God.
So, let us start now. Let us think of the feast, which we celebrate next Sunday: the Triumph of Orthodoxy. It is not the triumph of the Orthodox people over anyone else. Instead, it is the triumph of God’s truth, the triumph of God in the lives of people.
Let us look at the Saints whom we venerate and listen to what they have to say and teach us on our journey. Gregory Palamas, John of the Ladder, Mary of Egypt and all those who have followed in the footsteps of Christ give us something to think about and feel through.
Then we will reach the point at which we must forget everyone and everything, remembering nothing, no one but the Lord Jesus Christ: what He Is, what He has Done for us, what He is Doing for us. Let us learn to forget ourselves in the course of these weeks: joyfully, gratefully. Finally, we can turn away from ourselves and look only Godwards! And when the time of Passion week comes, with a new determination, with renunciation of ourselves, we will turn and look at God Who has become man for the sake of our Salvation. Then we can be grateful, forgetting ourselves, and remembering only Him.
And He will Remember us unto salvation. Amen.