St. Silouan the Athonite Mission Parish

Sermons

Theophany 6 January 2010
by Fr Roberto Ubertino

In the Jordan Jesus hears the words of His Father who calls him beloved Son in whom the Father delights. The Holy Spirit is also present. The Spirit who proceeds from the Father and who rests in the Beloved Son .This same spirit pushes Jesus with force into the desert to pray and fast for 40 days. In the desert, in that lonely place the Son is tempted, to doubt the Father’s voice. The delight of the Father will live the experience of the 40 years of wondering that the Israelites lived in the desert before entering the Promised Land. In the desert He the Son will live all our loneliness doubts and temptations. Having tasted our temptations and having lead “captivity captive” by confronting the devil he today enters the promised land of Israel resting in the love of His Father. The gospel of Marc at this point lets us hear his very first words to us.

Repent metanoia for the kingdom of God has drawn near.
We can repent for many reasons: repent or be killed or repent and win a million bucks. So the reason to repent is crucial, its not just repent but repent because the Kingdom of God is near, repent the Lord says to us today because a new life is possible in me, repent because the Father loves you as He loves me, repent because in Me there is hope, a new road opens up for you where before there was only a prison door, repent because the Kingdom is so close that if you want to you can touch it you can see it, you can hold it with your own hands.

What is this Kingdome of God that draws near to us?
It is what we proclaim at the start of every Divine Liturgy. Blessed is the Kingdom of the father and the Son and the Holy Spirit. The word Kingdom is actually in the New Testament a verb more accurately translated as the reign, it is the mode of existence of God in Trinity of persons. The Kingdom is the mutual indwelling of the divine person, is a perfect and eternal love and communion of being. To repent than means to see and understand all things only in the light of this reality of this Kingdom. This is the ground and meaning of all things. The perfect communion of the divine persons has drawn near to us and invites us into this eternal and perfect dance of communion and being by repentance. To repent is to never see a person outside of this real possibility of communion so that no person can ever be used or abused even for religious purposes.

  • Repent in front of this mystery means to leave the paths of egotism or to seek power over others, but rather to chose the path downward of humility which is the path towards communion with others and God.
  • To repent is to recognize that I need you to find God, that to be an orthodox Christian I need to be part of a living concrete parish.
  • To repent means to seek the perfection that St Paul speaks in his epistle this morning the word for perfection he uses as the root word in Greek that implies the image of a restoration of pieces that are perfectly fit together and so perfectly restored like a shattered vase would be.
  • Repentance is the understanding that there is no perfection in just being a piece by ourselves outside the body of Christ.
  • Repentance means that I will not exclude from heart any person.
  • Repentance is to live in this world the life of the blessed Trinity of Persons.

But if the Kingdom of God has drawn near where do I find it?

To enter this heavenly kingdom I am invited to follow Christ down in the waters follow Him down in his humiliation down in his taking on the suffering of all this is why we need to repent because the Glory of God is found in this self emptying and humility of the beloved of the Father. He freely takes his place among us as common sinner in the Jordan, he freely takes all the dimension of human life all our tears and joys and our very death. To find him I have to go down where is He is the servant of all.

So how do I know it’s all true?
Patriarch Bartholomew reminds us that orthodoxy is experiential. You know it’s true by living it. How do I find the presence of the Kingdom? I need to go where that kingdom is I need to go down in humility before others, I need to be present to the concern of the poor, I need to make myself small before those who suffer I need with the heart see that the person in front of me who may have hurt me or stinks is an encounter with a mystery. A word of caution certainly it never means to allow others to abuse us Jesus never allowed any one do this to himself or to others.

So in the words of Fr Justin Popovich how do I know if this true? That the doxa glory is found in the kenosis extreme humility of God? How do I know that repentance opens up to me the door of the kingdom of here and now in movement of time? Well in the words of Fr Justin Popovich live it and you will know it

 

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