February 26, 2017
Matthew 6:14-21 - "For 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.” (RSV)
In Forgiving we become like God – Nothing makes us so like God as our readiness to forgive the wicked and wrongdoer. … Christ is seeking in every way possible to hinder our conflicts with one another. For since love is the root of all that is good, by removing from all quarters whatever mars it He brings us together and cements us to one another. For there is not one, not a single one, whether father or mother or friend, who loves us as much as the God who created us. (St. John Chrysostom, Commentary on Matthew)
The icon is a detail of the Explusion of Adam and Eve from Paradise. The Holy Forty Days Fast (Great Lent) begins after Forgiveness Vespers on Sunday evening. May each of us seek out those we have offended and ask forgiveness, and forgive each and every man who has offended us (even if he does not seek our forgiveness). In that way we may approach the coming Fast worthily.