суббота, 13 февраля 2010 г.

Metropolitan Anthony of Sourozh. Forgiveness Sunday

Metropolitan Anthony of Sourozh
                     Forgiveness Sunday
                     25th February 2001
                           ----

In the Name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit.

The  weeks  that  have  preceded  Forgiveness  Sunday are weeks during
which, in the form of stories that actually took place or of parables,
we are presented with the basic sins, the basic brokenness of ours.

This  was  the  time  when  we  should have examined ourselves deeply,
deeply;  stood  before  God,  at  times  with  horror  at what we have
accepted  to  be,  at  times with pain at what has become of us in the
consequence of the life which was ours.

And  now  we have come to a point which is called Lent. Lent is an Old
English  word derived from the German that means spring, the beginning
of  life. Lent is no longer the time allotted to us for repentance. It
is  the time which, having repented week after week, we should be able
together  to move along a path that will lead us, through the examples
of  saints,  first  to  Calvary  with  Christ  and  see there what the
consequences are of our own sinfulness; because as we read in the life
of one saint, in response to a priest who was begging Christ to punish
the  evil-doers,  the Lord appeared to him and said, 'Never ask Me for
that.  If  there  was  only one sinner in the world I would become man
again, and again die upon the cross for him or her to be saved.'

When we will stand together at the foot of the cross on Great Thursday
night  or  by the tomb of Christ on Great Friday, we must realise that
this  has  happened  because  of  each of us ≈ not for the totality of
mankind  taken  wholesale,  but because of each of us. Christ died for
each  of us. And we must at that moment bring to Him ourselves in such
a  way as to show Him that for us, His death upon the cross was not in
vain. And then move towards the Resurrection to rise with Him, to rise
in  exultation,  to rise in gratitude, but to rise also renewed, a new
creature ≈ not perfect yet, because we have years during which we will
have  to  follow the same path step by step, again and again, until we
reach our full maturity and can enter into God's Kingdom.

Today  we  will  ask  forgiveness  from  one  another. This is totally
unrealistic  if we imagine that we can approach each of those who have
hurt  us,  wounded  us, at times destroyed our lives, and say, 'Let us
agree  that  the  horror  that  you have brought into my life does not
exist. I forgive you. Go in peace.'

We  are  not mature enough for this. The martyrs were capable of this;
we  are  not. But a thing which we can do, which each of us can do, is
to  say, 'Because you are so loved of God, so loved by Christ, that He
became  man,  lived,  taught  and died for you, and not only for me, I
accept  you  as  you  are.  Indeed,  I  would  be so happy if you were
different,  if  you  were  not  a cross on my shoulders, a wound in my
heart,  a  terror  in  my life, a humiliation. But there is still time
ahead  of  us,  and for the moment I accept you as you are and I shall
carry  you,  this acceptance, on my shoulders. As St Paul says, 'Carry
one  another's  burdens,  because it is the way in which you will have
fulfilled the law of Christ.'

And  carrying  the burden upon our shoulders means primarily to accept
my neighbour as he is, hoping that things will change, praying for him
or  for  her  that the grace of God should transform, transfigure this
person  ≈ but also me, because what judge am I of another's sins while
I am a sinner, while I am a temptation, a wound in the life of so many
others?

So  let  us  make  this  attempt. When we come to one another and say,
'Forgive  me'  it will not mean, if you answer 'Yes I do' that nothing
that was wrong between us is annihilated, exists no more. But it means
'I  accept  you as you are, sinful, a wound in my flesh, a wound in my
heart,  a  problem in my life ≈ but I accept you and I will carry this
acceptance,  and  you, throughout life, and pray for God's blessing to
be  on  you  and pray for God to heal both of us, that I should become
such  that I do not lead you into temptation, be the cause of your own
fall.

Let  us therefore pray together during this service, bring to God true
repentance  of  what  we are and what we have been, but also bring one
another to God.

Moving  towards  Calvary,  moving  towards  the  resurrection has been
compared  by  one  of  the ancient writers to travellers who board the
same  ship.  They will never arrive safe if there are quarrels between
them,  if they are not at one. Let us be at one, with Christ who is at
the rudder, with Christ who has given His life for each of us, however
difficult  we  are for one another. And when we say, 'Yes, I forgive,'
it means, 'I accept you as you are with whatever consequences to me. I
accept you, and give my life as an offering for yours.' Amen.

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