In the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit Amen.
The Sunday after The Theophany , the great feast of the revelation of the Holy Trinity .
And immediately after passing forty days in the desert and the temptations of the evil one , our Lord begins His Divine mission to save humanity , and everything and every word that He speaks is for us and for our salvation , and we heard today in the Gospel . The Lords words which are the foundation of our life in Christ : “ Repent for the Kingdom of Heaven is at hand “.
This is the foundation , the ground in which our spiritual life will grow . And yet we hear the word in English ,and unfortunately we have not a clear understanding of what The Lord said , because of the translation , and the word , the understanding of the word in English has been distorted over time , because of heterodox piety and theology . The word in Greek , Metanoite, Metania is to change ones mind.
But not the rational mind, the Diania in Greek , but the “ nous “of men . Metania . And this is not a change simply of thoughts . But it’s a change of stands of the whole being , it’s a ontolgical change . It’s a change of perspective , a change of the entire positioning of the soul before God .
Change your way of being the Lord is saying , change your way of thinking , but in the sense of: about God , and about this world and about salvation , these higher things .
He is not asking us to change the way we think about this life . But about the way we are relating to God . Change , and this kind of change is not happen simply because we will it , but because God wills it and we say “yes”.
So this ground in which the spiritual life is going to take root and flourish is Repentance ,it’s a lifelong state of being , it’s not a momentary feeling of remorse . We see in other part of scripture , a great injustice to the text is done when there speaking of Judas , and they say in English : “ He repented of what he did “. No he did not ! For if he had repented he would have followed the later example of Peter , who once again joined the choir of the apostles . He did not repent he had remorse . Remorse : feeling bad about yourself about the things you’ve done is not salvific , does not save , does not transfigure ,does not restore one to the communion with God . One has to change the way they think and live and stand , all our thought’s come from our stands before God !!
When we stand with pride the thought’s are proud , when we stand with judgementleness to our brother and sister we judge , before the mind thinks the thought’s the soul feels them , the heart expresses them .
This deep man needs to change , the deeper heart , the whole process of the spiritual life is to take this nous , this organ of the soul which communes with God and put it in the heart , and that heart be broken .And it have a sense of , not just remorse, but a sense of need to return to God . So another way to understand Repentance is return .
And the Lord teaches us that with the parable of the prodigal son . What is the prodigal son do ? You remember the parable , he is in with the pigs in the pigsty , eating the food of the animals , far from his Father . And he comes to himself , he has a change of heart a change of mind , he has ”αυτογνωσία” in Greek , selfknowledge , He comes to himself , he realises who he is , made in the image and likeness of God and who his Father is , and what he has lost .
This is the beginning but not the end of Repentance for the Prodigal son, what is he do ? he gets up and leaves the pigsty of sin and apostacy and separation and he begins the road of return , this is Repentance . And it doesn’t end intil the last breath leaves us . It is a stance of our entire life .
And in this ground , on this foundation then builds the spiritual life . Repentance is not feeling bad and going and saying to the Priest : – I did it again . No this is remorse . Repentance is going to the Priest and then returning to the battlefield and not going back to the pigsty ! Not going back to the sin ! This is Repentance , repentance is essentially our offering to God , our Yes with the Mother of God, when the Angel came to the Mother of God and announced the good news of salvation, it was a gift , an entire divine act it was no human ,at that moment …. The Mother of God said YES !
And that was the human synergy with the Divine will and then the incarnation took place , the same thing has to happen in each one of us . The Lord has given us salvation in baptism , the seed is there why is it not growing within us ? Because the Yes is hiddenness . Yes today ! no tomorrow !. It has to be a continous yes . This is the ascetic life . Without ascetisism there is no christianity , no Church , no christian life . Because asceticism is Love , asceticism is yes to God , continually yes to God . Fasting , prayer , this is our response to His love . When we do it for Him , and in Him then we are on the path of repentance . When we do it because we believe in religion and we do it for the sake of being a good person , and not for the person of Christ ,the Prodigal got up and went back to his Father , he embraced the person of God ,and then union happend and salvation was achived , was realized . If we are doing it for any other reason , if we are here today, are we going to confession tomorrow or last night , for any other reason besides wanted to be united to the person of Christ , then we are still not quite on the road of repentance . Our mind is not united to the purpose of our struggle , why we are doing this , we are here for one reason : to be united to Christ . Repentance brothers and sisters is to take our intellect , the higher part of our soul and put it in our heart and not leaves there intil we die . There where there is love for the person of Christ . And He says : ”Repent , for the Kingdom of God is at hand”. What is this Kingdom of God ? We have been confused again by heterodox thinking and heterodox theology , who thinks that there will be a Kingdom on earth , a millenium of rule of Christ like the Jews who awaited the Messiah who would give them a political solution to their problems with the Romans . How sad and how pathetic and how poor , and how limited is this vision of the Kingdom of God .
The Kingdom of God in Greek is Vasilia and it could be translated , and is better translated as : reign of God , the rule of God; in our hearts ! ! The Kingdom of God is within you the Lord says , it is not an external Kingdom , it’s not a restoration of the great days o King David , it’s not a restoration of Holy Russia with the great emperor over our land ,this is not the Kingdom of God , this is a blessed thing a wonderful thing , it can help many on the path to the Kingdom of God , but it is not the Kingdom of God .
The piece of earth that needs to be reigned over is our heart our body our soul , this is where the King wants to reign .
”The Kingdom of God is at hand ” meaning : I am at hand , I have come , The Lord Himself , the incarnation is before you .
The King of Heaven is now on earth, it is at hand , the Kingdom is within, it’s a spiritual Kingdom .
It’s when truth reigns in our heart and the evil one , the liar is far from us .
The Kingdom of God is Christ Himself , the Reign of God is Christ Himself when He sits of the throne of our heart , when we offer a continually Divine Liturgy in our heart and we say ”Lord Jesus Christ have mercy on me ” continually . And He reigns in that heart ,and that heart then is free from the kingdom of the enemy , and He reigns and rules and guides us .
So repent , change your whole way of being and seeing and doing . See as God sees , obtain the Divine perspective . And where is that happen ? And how does it happen ?
In the Church ! When we say it’s in Christ and for Christ , we mean in the Church and in the holy mysteries . It’s where the reign of God takes place . When we enter and submit to Christ , St Paul says : The Church of God submit to Christ , so that submission is a prerequisition for the reign of God in us .That submissuon again is not a one-time -yes but a continual stands before God , and then He reigns and rules within us. And it is at hand and it is near , Egis is the greek word and it means near, it’s close to us . Well after the death and resurrection of our Lord and the ascension then came pentecost and that Kingdom which was near to us ,came within us , with the descent of the Holy Spirit .
And the Kingdom the reign the rule of God comes , as we said with the descent of the Holy Spirit in the mysteries of baptism ,chrismation and when we commune continually , it’s a continual process of regeneration and transfiguration . So this reign, brothers and sisters , was not deceived in a think that it’s going to be achived with sentimentality , or a good disposition only , but with much blood and sweat and tears to the people who enter the Kingdom of God enter there in .
Pray that I repent , and that we all may progress on the path of repentance , purification , illumination of our nous our mind our heart , and that God may be all in all within us . Amen .