Saturday, April 11, 2009
Resurrection and Repentance
Truly, truly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit. --Jesus Christ
Some things I am thinking about this Easter....
Repentance (metanoia) not only prepares us for Pascha; repentance is itself the beginning of the Passover into life--the lifting up of the inner being in anticipation of the raising up of the total being. We have become so accustomed to thinking of repentance as an unpleasant, though necessary and obligatory rejection of the sin we "enjoy," that we have tended to lose sight of repentance as a fundamentally joyous, restorative return to life in its fullness.
While taking critical stock of our own failure, and courageously assuming responsibility for it, the focal point of repentance is, nevertheless, not our imperfection but the perfect love of Christ who "is good and loves mankind...." The primary orientation of repentance, in other words, is not toward our past but toward our future which has become much brighter in the light of the divine mercy, forgiveness and hope offered in Christ Jesus....
Repentance, accordingly, becomes not a repellent magnification of our deformity but an attractive reflecton of God's beauty. It is an invitation not to hopeless guilt but to freedom and responsibility. The purpose is not that we be ashamed, as though this were an end in itself. Demoralization is not the goal. The aim, rather is true life, a life characterized by honesty, integrity and personal accountability to God, to all others and to oneself. Only such a life can bring inner peace and happiness. We are thus told by our Lord: "go and sin no more."
Jesus rose with his wounds; and we, too, rise with our wounds. In repentance, we are able to realize a resurrection of the heart before the final resurrection of the dead....Through baptism, we find that our resurrection through repentance is not a denial or a disparagement of our past wounds and vulnerability. It is not a rejection of our own past, no matter how painful and broken this may have been. The resurrection is not an abandonment of the cross, but the reintegration of all our crosses, the reconciliation of all sinners, the incorporation of all suffering into the life-giving death of Christ.
As we open up through repentance to all that has ever happened to us, we know that nothing is finally wasted. Rather than casting aside the unwanted parts of our selves, we instead discover that childhood pain and adult humiliation, our experiences of sorrow and of joy, our confusion and our many losses all are gathered in and somehow being healed. We feel new life, and see new light--the life and light of the risen Christ. We become enabled to look at our own past with love, not in order to forget our past but in order to measure just how far we have come by God's grace and to appreciate precisely where we are called to go. Where, before, we could only see a wasteland of pain, we can now witness the crops that have been watered by the grace of God.
The light of His resurrection is able to dispel any darkness in our heart and in our world. The power of the resurrection can alone finally change this world. Christ's resurrection is the seed of new life, of life which is greater than sin, corruption and death. This divine life transfigures all that receive it. It can transform the cosmos into heaven, as well as my heart and yours.
--excerpts from John Chryssavgis, Soul Mending
Father in Heaven!
Hold not our sins up against us
But hold us up against our sins,
So that the thought of Thee should not remind us
Of what we have committed,
But of what Thou didst forgive;
Not how we went astray,
But how Thou didst save us!
--from Prayers of Kierkegaard