Returning to Paradise through Repentance and Forgiveness (Forgiveness Sunday)

On Forgiveness Sunday, Fr. Matthew Howell talks about the expulsion of Adam from Paradise and how our Lenten journey is our effort to return to Paradise after being cast out due to our sin. He ties this together liturgically by explaining the transition from bright to dark vestments during Forgiveness Vespers and why the Holy Doors in the church are closed so much more during Lent and their symbolism of being opened for good at Pascha and during Bright Week. In the second half of the homily, Fr. Matthew explains how our journey back to Paradise cannot happen without repentance and especially forgiveness. He talks about what forgiveness is, what it is not, how it is a dynamic but not linear process, and how to move from anger to apathy to agape love on the spectrum of forgiveness.

Romans 13:11-14; 14:1-4

Brethren, salvation is nearer to us now than when we first believed; the night is far gone, the day is at hand. Let us then cast off the works of darkness and put on the armor of light; let us conduct ourselves becomingly as in the day, not in reveling and drunkenness, not in debauchery and licentiousness, not in quarreling and jealousy. But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh, to gratify its desires. As for the man who is weak in faith, welcome him, but not for disputes over opinions. One believes he may eat anything, while the weak man eats only vegetables. Let not him who eats despise him who abstains, and let not him who abstains pass judgment on him who eats; for God has welcomed him. Who are you to pass judgment on the servant of another? It is before his own master that he stands or falls. And he will be upheld, for God is able to make him stand.

Matthew 6:14-21

The Lord said, “If you forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father also will forgive you; but if you do not forgive men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses. And when you fast, do not look dismal, like the hypocrites, for they disfigure their faces that their fasting may be seen by men. Truly, I say to you, they have received their reward. But when you fast, anoint your head and wash your face, that your fasting may not be seen by men but by your Father who is in secret; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you. Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust consume and where thieves break in and steal, but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust consumes and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.