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2013-03-24 message

posted Apr 4, 2013, 3:20 PM by St. John's Webmaster

I ended last week by saying that fasting should be undertaken in a joyous manner. While we may not often think of fasting as joyous, there is one other aspect of the spiritual life that is less likely to make us think of joy. That aspect is repentance.

In the newsletter I mentioned the beautiful aspect of repentance. The Lord Himself told us to repent, so it is virtually impossible to say too much about repentance. There is, indeed joy in repentance. It is there because of the love and forgiveness of God, Who offered repentance to us as a means of restoring ourselves to the proper relationship with Him every time that we fall in sin.

In the same way that the beauty of Lent is not ostentatious, the joy of repentance is not effervescent or exuberant. It would be perhaps best to refer to it as a joyful sorrow (harmolype). There is sorrow – a sorrow related to our sinfulness and the sinfulness of a world that was redeemed through the crucifixion of its Savior. Indeed, if we realize the height of our calling, the beauty of holiness, the peace of knowing God, and the joy of life in communion with Him, we cannot but be sorrowful when we do something that severs that communion even slightly.

The final word, however, belongs to God. He has taken on our infirmities. He has opened for us the gate of Paradise. He has commanded us to forgive even unto seventy times seven and told us that, as we forgive those who wrong us, so He will forgive us. Heaven is never unattainable. God is never unknowable. His love is immeasurable. This realization colors every emotion of a Christian. It allows us to approach boldly the throne of God (cf. Heb. ??). It inspires and energizes our repentance.

It is here, in the strength we receive for repentance that we can admit to ourselves and before God our shortcomings. With this strength of God’s grace we can finally partake of the healing waters that the Spirit abundantly pours forth in the Church. It is here, in being healed, that we realize the most important aspect of the joy of repentance. It may not be exuberant, but it is a joy that is founded on faith and, therefore, it is a joy that lasts; one that is not easily taken away from us.

May the Lord grant this joy to all of us.

With love in Christ,
+Fr. Peter