Dearly beloved,

I never cease to be pleased and enthralled by the interactions, the endless combinations, the swirling together of themes, thoughts and ideas in our Holy Orthodox Faith.

Last Sunday (Feb 16th) was the Sunday of the Prodigal Son. In the story, we see the son trample upon, discard, and walk away from the relationship of love he had shared with his father. He departs to "a far land". Yet, truly miraculously, by God's grace, he "came to himself", realized that he had given up what was truly valuable for temporal and temporary things, and returned... received again into that relationship of love which his father had never, would never give up.

This coming Sunday (Feb 23) we will commemorate the Last Judgment. This is not a drama of wrath, of punishment, as some conceive it; rather it is the tale, the horror, of what would have happened if the first part of last week's story was the whole story. What would have happened if the son had not returned, if the son had discarded love forever in exchange for meaningless materialism. The Last Judgment is the story of a sorrowing God, weeping eternally for those who - could this really be true? - use their free will to discard life, unity, love, generosity, compassion, forgiveness, joy, everything of true worth and value, for "the pods which the pigs did eat". 

And then, on the following Sunday (March 1), at the threshold of Great Lent, we take up the last part of the parable. The Reconciliation, the forgiveness, the reunification, the putting aright that which was sundered. Forgiveness Sunday. Easy to say, but not simplistic. It requires effort. It requires letting go and at the same time taking up. It requires reminding ourselves of that which is truly important - love - and setting aside that which is blocking love's way - pride, selfishness, egotism and all the rest. Not simplistic, but immensely valuable, worthwhile.

And a wonderful, wonderful way to begin Great Lent!

May God grant us wisdom!