As long as we live self-centered lives, we cannot forgive our neighbor, our ego will not allow it. Once our lives are God-centered, however, we are able to forgive others as God forgives us. Let us remember that God’s mercy and forgiveness to us is often hidden in our mercy and forgiveness to others. Our Lenten journey is not an isolated or an individual affair but a family event. (Forgiveness Sunday Synaxarion)
I can’t think of any better words for family members to pray and meditate on as they begin the Great Fast leading us to the Holy Pascha of our Lord. This above text is based on the Gospel reading from Matthew read on Forgiveness Sunday. If our fasting and praying do not lead us to being reconciled with one another and extending mercy to one another, then we are not fasting and praying for the right reasons.
So how can we get to the point that we fast and pray for the right reasons? Hear some further thoughts about this:
WHEN YOU FAST; NOT IF YOU FAST;
- Don’t make a public display of it
- “I know some, well – actually I know many – who, even while neglecting to fast, yet still wear the garments of those who fast. The cloak themselves with a false exoneration worse than their actual sin.” John Chrysostom
- Vainglory is just not rooted in having fine dress and want to look good in the eyes of man; it can also mean wanting to look and act piously just so that people will notice external facades and commend you for being something you are not.
- “I would like to urge you to forsake everything, but that I do not presume to do. Yet, if you cannot give up everything of this world, at least keep what belongs to the world in such a way that you yourself are not kept prisoner of the world. Whatever you possess must not possess you; whatever you own must be under the power of your soul; for if your soul is overpowered by the love of this world’s goods, it will totally at the mercy of its possessions.” St Gregory the Great Pope of Rome; In the World Yet Not of It
If we have this attitude about fasting we will be able to enter into a right relationship with what God gives as stewards. We will be able to use what we have been entrusted with for the well being others and not just ourselves. Lord free us from the things that possess us, so that we use what you give us in extending compassion to others. Free us from the grudges we hang onto, so we can forgive those who have wronged us.
Forgive me a sinner,
The blessing of the Lord be upon you,