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By Kyril McGown
Holy American Orthodox Church 

The Fifth Sunday of Lent

 


Lent is drawing to a close. Sunday will be the 5th Sunday of Lent and there is only one more week to go before we reach the special Church Season of Holy Week. The season in which we commemorate Jesus’ triumphal entrance into the Holy City of Jerusalem. His giving us the Eucharistic Feast; followed by His passion and suffering and His death in the most ignominious way – on the cross, despised by those who, only a few days before, had honored His arrival. Then His glorious Resurrection from the dead, proving His power over death.

The churches which follow the Church Calendars showing particular church seasons and festivals have given us forty days to repent and to draw closer to our Creator. The message of both John the Baptist and Jesus himself was a message of repentance. Jesus came into the world to save sinners. Several times in His public ministry he reminded us that he did not come to call the righteous, but the sinners – those in need of healing. Often times, we are reminded that our churches should be thought of as hospitals—places of spiritual healing.

As Lent winds down, this is the time when we should be looking at how we spent this Lent. Did we indeed repent of all of those things that we have done to offend God—to make His passion that much harder? Did we improve our relations with God the Father by improving our prayer life? Did we spend time thinking about our duties under the law that Jesus gave to us--”to love God with our whole mind, our whole souls and our whole being, and to love our neighbor as ourselves?”

Have we had a good Lent? Or have we continued our usual routine of asking God for what we think we need, what we desire? Or have we spent time remembering that the sins of which we are all guilty have increased the pain and suffering of the Son of God, who was a man like us in all things but sin? And more importantly, have we made an effort to listen to God and His plans for us instead of trying to tell Him ours?

We have some time left. Let us recall the homily of St. John Chrysostom (c.347-407) in his famous sermon which is read in all Orthodox Churches on Easter Sunday: Let all pious men and all lovers of God rejoice in the splendor of this feast.....let those who have borne the burden of the Fast and those who disregarded the Fast now receive their pay, and those who have toiled from the first hour, let them now receive their due reward; let any who came after the third hour be grateful to join in the feast, and those who may have come after the sixth, let them not be afraid of being too late, for the Lord is gracious and He receives the last even as the first. He gives rest to him who comes on the eleventh hour as well as him who has toiled since the first; yes, He has pity on the last and He serves the first. He rewards the one and is generous to the other; He repays the deed and praises the effort. Come you all: enter into the joy of your Lord.”

Have a good Lent!

May you all have a joyous and glorious Easter!

Christos Voskrese! Voistinnuye Voskrese! Christ is Risen! Indeed He is Risen!

 

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