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Repentance (and the Kingdom of God/Heaven)

“…repentance was not meant to be a listing of violations against God’s various laws, but rather was meant to be a deeper assessment of how we each have failed to incarnate God’s Kingdom in our lives and in this world. Repentance is to focus on the ways we have not lived according to the values of the Gospel and the Kingdom of Heaven or failed to make the Kingdom present in our lives and in the lives of those around us. This is the true change of heart and mind that repentance calls us to, rather than a mere listing of rule violations. Repentance, more than a mere acknowledgement of transgressions, is a change in the way we think and see the world (a true paradign shift).” (Fr. Alexander Schmemann, Fr. Ted Bobosh)

“In the beginning the sacrament of repentance was totally focused on one thing: on the betrayal of the Church, betrayal of her incarnated and revealed reality. Sin was considered a betrayal of the new life, a falling out of it. Sin was a rupture, a defection, a betrayal; sanctity was understood not as a moral perfection, but as an ontological faithfulness to Christ and His Kingdom. The moral teaching of the Church is eschatological, not ethical. For Christians, the essence of sin is the betrayal of Christ, the falling away from Him and the Church. So the sacrament of repentance is a return, through repentance, confession and regret, to the new life, already given, already revealed. Nowadays, Confession is not directed at that; its essence is different. It is directed toward a certain moral regularization – putting in order – of life in this world, of its laws.” (Fr. Alexander Schmemann)

“It is not that our cultural conception of repentance is totally wrong; it is more that there is so much that it is missing. And the main thing that is missing is, quite simply, the reason Christ Himself actually gave for it: “the Kingdom of Heaven is at hand.” And He really meant that it is at hand. He did not come simply to explain to us some cosmic legal system of merit-based rewards and punishments, having little to do with the here-and-now and which none of us will actually experience until the afterlife. No, He came to give sight to the blind and life to the dead, “to pour out His spirit upon all flesh” (Acts 2:17). He came to make us gods by grace. It is precisely this “change of heart” that Christ came to give freely to mankind; it is precisely this change of being which we have been given our lives on this earth to acquire.” (Hieromonk Gabriel)

“Regardless of the particular maladies of soul that we experience, it is crucial that we not look for their healing merely as a form of self-help. Doing so will simply turn our focus on ourselves and invite pride to take root more firmly in souls, which will also be the case if we fall into shame for not meeting the standards we have set for ourselves. We should not judge ourselves on how well we have done anything…, but must instead simply call for the Lord’s mercy with the benefit of whatever spiritual clarity we have acquired. As today’s epistle reading states, He is the “High Priest of the good things to come…[Who] entered in once for all into the holy place, having found eternal redemption.” Through the Lord’s great Self-Offering, even the most wretched person may enter into the blessedness of the Kingdom through humble faith and repentance. Even the most notorious sinner may become a glorious saint and shine brightly with eternal glory.” (Fr. Philip LeMasters)

“Repentance, confession, and baptism lead to fruits worthy of repentance, a way of life consistent with the Kingdom of God (see Gal 5:22–25). If a fruitful life does not follow, sacramental acts and spiritual discipline are useless.” (Orthodox Study Bible, Matthew 3:8)


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