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

 

Lord Jesus Christ, God the Word, for us people incarnated and became a man, then he was baptized by John at Jordan and wanted to open the heaven for us and to open the possibility for us to return where human dignity belonged, which is in heaven with the Lord. In eternal communion with the good and holy God. That is why the Lord descended on earth, to preach His teaching of salvation. That is why the Lord went from the land of Zabulon and the land of Naphtalim where the darkness of paganism ruled, in order to confirm what was written in the Scriptures and they would believe in Him:”The land of Zabulon and the land of Nephtalim, by the way of the sea, beyond Jordan, is Galilee of the Gentiles. “The people that sat in darkness saw a great light, especially to those that were sitting in a place of deadly shade, light shone.”

The people from Galilee, which will later become the favorite place for preaching of out Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, His city from which the first apostles will be summoned, abode in ignorance of the true God and were taken astray by the false idols. It was because of them that the Lord poured His Good News and the light that leads to eternal life. This light is God Himself and the Word of God, the Gospel, that the Godman Jesus Christ was preaching and which testified about Him as the Only God. This Word of God is still preached in our holy Orthodox Church and we need not only to listen to it, but also to fulfill it.

Everyone that serves their passions, above all the passion of self-love, expressed by the three main groups of passions: pleasure-indulgence, covetousness and vainglory and are captivated by them are still in darkness and in a deadly shade. All of these passions become our idols which we worship and are the main obstacles that disturb our relationship towards God and they darken our minds and hearts so the light cannot be lit inside us and we cannot see the Lord and inherit eternal life.

The words of God are eternal and always modern are the words “Repent for the Kingdom of Heaven is near“; these words are equally important to us as they refer to us today. The Lord does not say repent and (already) you have accepted the kingdom of heaven, as some wish to think, but He says repent for the Kingdom of Heaven is near. Here is an act, an action, movement, still not accomplished to its end. It is not enough for us to repent only formally, superficially, but we also need to give fruits of our repentance. This means that really the Kingdom of God has come, Christ announced it, but it is upon us to struggle and to be diligent and accept it. We accept it only by repentance. Repentance is the only way by which we acquire the kingdom of heaven.

Repentance means change of mind, i.e. change of our fallen and darkened mind that is sitting in a deadly shade and that is darkened by the passions and delusions of this world and serve to the devil and his fallen demons of the darkness, Repentance is turning towards God  and the light of the Gospels.

Repentance means firm decisiveness that we change our life to good.  Living like the prodigal son in a foreign land, outside our father’s home, we become aware that we are following the wrong direction,  that we discard first the love of God, and then we take from ourselves eternal salvation and the joy in the kingdom of heaven and so we decide to change our lives. We turn from sinful to holy life.

This change needs to be essential, with all of our being, not superficial or partial.  The deeper and more qualitative our repentance is, the deeper our change turns and the more qualitative our life becomes. It is not enough just to come before the priest, confess in short or, as often happens, to talk about the others, to have a prayer read, to take holy communion and then again the same old way of life, as no essential changes have taken place in our hearts and they still carry the same passions and burdens. But we need to give all our life to Christ the God. Then all our life will become good. It will become enlightened. We will have good thoughts, good deeds and will see everything with light and love. All our life will turn into light and joy. Then truly Christ has come to us and these words of Christ become active within us. Then in our hearts will come the divine light and then our life will turn to good.

The Holy Apostle  Paul in His Epistle to the Thessalonians taught us in today’s readings:
Make sure that nobody pays back wrong for wrong, but always strive to do what is good for each other and for everyone else. Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.
Do not quench the Spirit. Do not treat prophecies with contempt but test them all; hold on to what is good, reject every kind of evil. May God himself, the God of peace, sanctify you through and through. (1 Thess, 5:15-22)

If joy, thankfulness, prayer and love are not present in our lives it means that still for us Christ has not come, that we are still in the darkness and the deadly shade, and still the heaven is closed to us. That is why the Holy Church continually reminds us: Repent for the Kingdom of Heaven is near. Let us repent for there is no other way of salvation except by repentance. If we go to Church regularly, make some corporal effort, even prayer, but without repentance all of these are deceit and lie. And how much repentance is important is seen by the fact that Lord Jesus Christ in the beginning of his preaching highlights these words, in the same manner as St. John the Baptist before Him was the first to announce the words of repentance and in the same manner as the holy apostles when founding the Church, in their first preaching emphasized repentance as the only way and the only condition for our salvation, for entering the Kingdom of God and eternal life. Therefore repent for the kingdom of heaven is near.


Amen.