“You’re not going to find greatness on the beach; you’re going to find it in the struggle.”

On Forgiveness Sunday (Cheesefare Sunday), the Sunday before Great Lent begins, Fr. Matthew Howell rehashes points from his homilies in the previous six years on this same Sunday. He starts by talking about how we see ourselves as Adam and Eve cast out of Paradise and what that looks like liturgically in Forgiveness Vespers. He then segues into talking about forgiveness, saying that forgiveness is optional but we are guaranteed not to be forgiven by God if we don’t forgive our brothers and sisters. He finishes by talking about the season of Great Lent in the context of “Monty-isms” which are sayings by the Phoenix Suns basketball coach Monty Williams. Fr. Matthew explains that Lent is “not a Got-to, it’s a Get-to;” that “everything you want [i.e. Christ] is on the other side of hard.” He introduces a new phrase from Monty Williams and relates it to our ascetic struggle during Lent: “You’re not going to find greatness on the beach; you’re going to find it in the struggle.” Along the way, he includes quotes from the sermon on the mount, the Gospel of John, the epistle to the Romans, and a hymn from Forgiveness Sunday orthros.

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.