My dear brothers and sisters in Christ, we have arrived now at Forgiveness Sunday – the gateway toward our season of repentance that is the Great Fast.
Before we can begin our journey of repentance and healing, the Church calls us to set aside our resentments, our judgments of one another. We must knock down those walls we build between our self and others that allow us the delusion of thinking we’re isolated and separate. We must realize the part that we play in the disease and disorder of this world.
Today we are called to ask forgiveness of one another. We must ask forgiveness not just of those whom we may have offended by our selfishness – though this is also a requirement and is often the most difficult reconciliation because of our foolish resentment and pride that create such barriers between us.
But in addition to asking forgiveness of those whom we have directly offended, we must also beg forgiveness of one another for the part we have played in contributing to the sin that affects this world that we share. Every sinful thought, word, and deed we commit tips those scales of good and evil in the direction of evil. God help us to stop contributing to that storehouse of evil that spills out in destruction across the world!
We must instead realize and understand that every good and pious thought, word, and deed can help tip that scale of good and evil toward the good. Every prayer, every sigh, every tear, every selfless gesture of courtesy and kindness contributes to the good and has ripples across the world!
We must wake up and understand that what we do, what we say, and what we think deeply matters! Apostle Paul calls to us today… ‘now it is high time to awake out of sleep; for now our salvation is nearer than when we first believed. The night is far spent, the day is at hand.’
Today, on Forgiveness Sunday, we are given a special opportunity to awaken from our spiritual drowsiness and blindness. We are called to begin our Lenten journey with our eyes open to the awareness of the presence of God and to the impact that each one of us has upon one another. May this Lenten season be a season of repentance for each of us.
We will conclude the Divine Liturgy now and will then begin the Forgiveness Vespers service. As we begin to hear the solemn melodies of Lent, as we once again pray the prayer of St Ephraim - let us indeed pray that God would grant us to see our own sins and not to judge our brother. Forgive me my brothers and sisters! May God bless us and grant us repentance!