January 23, 2016
The Argo, a merchant ship sailing off the New England coast, ran aground and lost its cargo. It was traveling at night and in dense fog. The captain later explained that the ship was only three degrees off course. Those three degrees eventually meant a difference of ten miles at the point the ship hit ground. The ship's instruments had malfunctioned and in the darkness the captain could not see that he was approaching land.
Our life can be like that. Life is a journey requiring a right course. Our most urgent need is to align ourselves in all that we are and in all that we say and do with God, His will and His purposes, so that we may safely reach the harbor of His Kingdom. To veer from this course only a few degrees can eventually lead to shipwreck on the rocks of selfishness, sin and spiritual death. We cannot travel in the darkness of the world without spiritual sensitivities and without guiding light.
Christ said: "I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will have the light of life and will never walk in darkness" (Jn 8:12, p. 260). Christ Himself is God's Light and He always shines upon us to the degree that we are ready to receive Him. As we hear the Good News of Christ and we embrace God's love and forgiveness with all our hearts, we experience something of God's spiritual light shining through Christ. As we affirm our faith in Christ and daily practice His teachings, the new creation takes hold in us. To quote St. Paul: "The God Who said, 'Out of darkness the light shall shine!' is the same God Who made His light shine in our hearts, to bring us the knowledge of God's glory shining in the face of Christ" (2 Cor. 4:6). This is "the light that comes from the Good News" (2 Cor. 4:4) which keeps us on the right course - helping us to maintain a right relationship with God, ourselves, others and everything in the world.
The last words of Jesus in the above passage call for repentance as the way of preparing to see Christ's light. "Repent, for the Kingdom of heaven is at hand!" is the RSV translation. True repentance means a deliberate and decisive resolve to change course and to head in a new direction. Repentance is God's offer for a fresh start. How can God forgive us and liberate us from whatever enslaves us unless we turn to Him? How can we experience our new self in Christ unless we are willing to leave the old self behind? That is why Jesus began His ministry by asking people to turn their eyes from themselves and to look toward God and His Kingdom. ''.Turn away from your sins, because the Kingdom is near!" (Mt. 4:17). THE KINGDOM OF GOD IS ALWAYS NEAR! THE KINGDOM OF GOD IS GOD HIMSELF IN HIS PERSONAL PRESENCE, GRACIOUS POWER, HEALING FORGIVENESS, AND RENEWING LOVE EXPERIENCED THROUGH CHRIST. That's the Good News!
This is the season of Theophany.
Christ has appeared to us in the Jordan River.
Come, O faithful, and let us draw from Him
Who is living water forgiveness of our sins.
For Christ has come in our midst in the flesh,
seeking the lost sheep and, as a merciful God,
having found it, He brings it immediately
to paradise. Christ has appeared
in the Jordan and has illumined the world!
O Lord, glory to You!
Adapted Theophany Hymn
Matins for January 11/24