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REPENTANCE


 

 

 

THE SPIRIT OF LENT:  DO GOOD AND AVOID EVIL (Cor X 1-6; 12) 

The Jews did not profit from the wonders God worked for them in the desert; and we, Christians, are, likewise, not profiting from the baptism and sharing of the bread  and wine.  The Jews "ate manna and drank from the water," shadows of the Mysteries of the water and wine.  But they proved to be unworthy of those gifts.  Although God honored them with such great gifts, ". . .with most of them He was not well pleased:  it profiteth them nothing . . .all of them perished. . ." because they did not show forth the fruits of love.  

St. Paul reminds the first Christians of things past rather than things in the future:  "If you disbelieve the things to come, yet surely the things that are past ye will not disbelieve," so Paul reminds them of what happened to the unbelieving Jews.  That, in the past, God always punished the Jews when they sinned in spite of the innumerable gifts He had bestowed on them.  

God rained wonders on the Jews; the Jews should have shown signs they were worthy. . .through a reformed way of life, a life of obedience to His commands.  But since they showed none of these, God did not spare them but destroyed them with a double vengeance;  firstly, they did not enter the land promised to them and, secondly, they were severely punished.  

The Jews went wrong when they began desiring seemingly innocent things, like the meat of Egypt.  There is nothing wrong with meat; but when you would rather eat meat than do God's will, you have opened yourself to the greatest sins.  Thus, desiring the flesh pots of Egypt, the Jews fell into desiring or lusting for evil things.  From this sin of sensuality, they gradually regressed to idolatry.  And IDOLATRY is described thus:  ". . .the people sat down to eat and to drink and rose up to dance."  Which makes our age the most idolatrous since eating, drinking and dancing are very common today.  

Pride and carelessness makes us fall.  Be not, therefore, "high-minded at thy standing. . .he who thinks he is standing. . ." for all of us are not even standing.  

Stand up and arise; and do good; bear each other's defects, give alms, pray earnestly, accuse thy own sins, be sorrowful for your sins, suffer hardships and evil nobly, take pity on orphans and widows.  God is a merciful God; from the servant who owed Him 10,000 talents, God required merely that he fall down on his knees.  In the case  of the prodigal son, He merely required that he return home.  And for the lost sheep, He merely asked that it be willing to be borne on the shoulder of the Good Shepherd.  

O Christian soul, who of us, condemned with a thousand deaths, if given the choice of freedom for a very small amount, would not most willingly pay the amount for our life?  Yet many of us would rather die a thousand deaths spiritually than give up any of our property.  Many of us make light of our salvation by being sparing of our almsgiving.  This is like asking God to have mercy on you while you yourself have no mercy on yourself; it is like asking God to spare when you do not spare yourself.  

St. John Chrysostom, "On Cor."

 

 

 

 

 

  (10-21-04)

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