The Sunday After Theophany

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In the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.

Today's Gospel tells us about countries lying in darkness and the shadow of death, in which, however, a great light has shone. Doesn't this also apply to the world we live in today? Ever since the light of Christ’s birth, life, preaching, death and Resurrection and Ascension shone in Galilee and in the seaside of the Holy Land, the gospel message has spread throughout the world, but it has been received very differently in different places. For some, it was a new life, an eternal life that had already reached them, an eternal life already here on earth. But for most people — and let’s be honest, for most of us!— this message, which is eternal life for the whole earth, for the universe, has become only a narrow, acceptable, inspiring, but, alas, not completely transforming worldview. As one Russian writers, Nikolai Leskov, said back in the nineteenth century, our country has been baptized, but it has not been enlightened... And we are all in the same condition as our native Russia, as the lands of the West in which we live. The message reached us, our heart trembled, we were struck by the harmony and beauty of Christ’s teaching, the remarkableness of His person, and we entered this stream of mysterious life. And yet, so often this stream carries us along as if we were a foreign body, a sliver; we do not become what these life-giving waters of the stream of eternal life are.

How then did the Savior Christ, going out to preach, address not people sitting in darkness and the shadow of death, but the people who had already kept the living and life-giving word of God for centuries, with the call “Repent!”?

So now, the word of repentance, the first word of Christ’s preaching, is addressed to us, to those of us who call ourselves and consider ourselves believers, to those of us who bear the name of Christ, to those of us by whom people sitting in darkness and the shadow of death judge God, His victory or His defeat. Because if they do not see in us any fruits of His preaching, any fruits of His life and death, any fruits of the sacraments of the Church—how can people who are strangers to Christ, strangers to God, trust in Him and come to believe?

And so, this word is addressed to us: Repent! Repenting not mean weeping over yourself, it does not mean grieving for your poor, truly miserable condition, because we are poor—not in earthly terms, that would be nothing! But rather are we are poor in relation to the Kingdom of God, deprived of what constitutes this. No, it’s not about mourning our poverty and grieving, but turning with our soul, with our whole thought, with our whole strength, with our whole being, with our whole heart to life; not to that petty, pathetic, half-dead life that we live, but to that stream of life that represents eternity, God. This word is addressed to us, and we will answer, sooner or later, for the fact that all around us the earth is still so fearfully like the shadow of death, the region of darkness.

The light has shone, we must be its beams. Are we shining in the darkness? Do we reveal the glory of the new life in ourselves? Let us repent. Let us turn our face to God, turn our face to our neighbor, with love, with reverence, let us fulfill the covenant of Christ, the covenant of love, the covenant of care, the covenant of compassion, the covenant of joy, and bring light, life and joy into this world in which we live. Then it will be seen that we have borne the fruits of repentance.

This word is addressed to us: Repent! Let us repent, and then there will be light all around us. Amen.

Metropolitan Anthony (Bloom) of Sourozh
Translation by Igumen Seraphim (Bell)


Jennifer (Nina) Spiers1/21/2024 4:58 pm
"Let us repent, and then there will be light all around us. Amen." Let it be. Lord, have mercy on us!
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