Two weeks ago, we took our first steps towards the Lord’s saving Resurrection in the commemoration of the Publican repentance, and we are Liturgically encouraged to build on that momentum in our commemoration of the Prodigal Son this Sunday. Last Sunday we were illumined by the need of repentance in our relationship with God and neighbour alike, this Sunday we are shown what to do with that repentance. That is leave the swine and slop of this world, its broken promises and heart aches, and return home to the Father’s love.
We all repent to one degree or another, recognizing our failings and sins towards God and neighbour alike. But what we do with that repentance is another thing. We saw Zacchaeus repentance demonstrated by giving half of his goods to the poor and restoring fourfold whom he defrauded. and we see this weekend, the Prodigal Son “coming to himself” in repentance, and returning home. This movement and demonstration of repentance is contrasted with the repentance of Judas. Poor Judas had the wisdom to recognize ““I have sinned by betraying innocent blood.” (Mt. 27:4) but was not willing to do something about it or to reconcile himself to the one he sinned against, but in despair hung himself. And this is the thing; repentance is our heart recognizing we have broken a relationship. It is an acceptance of our shame having betrayed God and neighbour alike. But if that repentance is nothing that moves us to return home to the Father’s love, or to give to those we have defrauded spiritually, physically, and socially, it is of no good. In fact it is profoundly self destructive driving us to insanity.
In the same way we were implored to seek and meet the Lord like Zacchaeus, and to flee from the pride of the Pharisee, we ought to equally move towards reconciling ourselves with God and neighbour alike. Repentance is the first step on our journey to the Lord’s Pascha, doing something about it is indeed that second step that brings us closer to that Holy day, and brings us closer to His forgiving and loving mercy.
May the Lord bless us in this, step by step.