Gospel Reading: Matthew 6:14-21

14 “For if you forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. 15 But if you do not forgive men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.

16 “Moreover, when you fast, do not be like the [a]hypocrites, with a sad countenance. For they disfigure their faces that they may appear to men to be fasting. Assuredly, I say to you, they have their reward. 17 But you, when you fast, anoint your head and wash your face, 18 so that you do not appear to men to be fasting, but to your Father who is in the secret place; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you [b]openly.

19 “Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal; 20 but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. 21 For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.


Евангелско четиво: Матеј 6, 14-21

14. Бидејќи, ако им ги простите на луѓето гревовите нивни и вам ќе ви ги прости вашиот Отец небесен; 15. ако, пак, не им ги простите гревовите на луѓето, и вашиот Отец нема да ви ги прости вашите. 16. Кога постите, не бидете жалосни како лицемерите; зашто тие си ги прават лицата мрачни, за да се покажат пред луѓето дека постат. Вистина ви велам, оти тие ја добиле веќе својата награда. 17. А ти, кога постиш, помажи ја главата своја и измиј го лицето свое, 18. па да се покажеш дека постиш не пред луѓето, туку пред својот Отец, Кој е во тајност; и твојот Отец, Кој гледа тајно, ќе те награди јавно. 19. Не собирајте богатства на земјата, каде што ги јаде молецот и ‘рѓата, и каде што крадците ги поткопуваат и крадат; 20. но собирајте си богатства на небото, каде што ни молец, ниту ‘рѓа ги јаде, и каде што крадци не ги поткопуваат, ниту крадат; 21. зашто, каде што е богатството ваше, таму ќе биде и срцето ваше.


Gospel Message: Forgiveness, Fasting and Laying up treasures in heaven.

In today’s Gospel lesson the Lord Jesus offers us a three-part recipe for Lent: forgiveness, fasting and laying up treasures in heaven.

First, forgiveness. The trouble with our world today is that we have built too many walls. The Iron Curtain. The Bamboo Curtain. Walls between the races. Walls between husbands and wives, parents and children. Walls between man and God. One of the best ways to tear down walls is by forgiveness.

Let us start with the walls between man and God. These walls are built by sin. During Lent the Church calls upon us to look at the cross of Jesus and His great mercy. She invites us to come to Christ during Lent in the great Sacrament of Confession to exchange our sins for the riches of His Grace, to taste and experience for ourselves the sweetness of His forgiving love.

Having received His forgiveness, God calls on us to grant forgiveness to all who have hurt us and also to seek forgiveness from those whom we have hurt. God offers us His forgiveness very graciously and generously. But His forgiveness obligates us to forgive others. This is exactly what Jesus says in today’s Gospel lesson: “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.” Christianity begins with the forgiveness of our Lord. But it does not end here. Because I have been forgiven and daily am being forgiven by God for my many sins, I am obligated to forgive others.

So Lent becomes a time for tearing down walls first between man and God and then between neighbors — walls created by enmity and hatred; walls tougher than steel or concrete; walls which forgiveness alone can destroy.

Fr. Alexander Schmemann has written, “The triumph of sin, the main sign of its rule over the world, is division, opposition, separation, hatred. Therefore, the first break through this fortress of sin is forgiveness: the return to unity, solidarity, love. To forgive is to put between me and my ‘enemy’ the radiant forgiveness of God Himself. To forgive is to reject the hopeless ‘dead-ends’ of human relations and to refer them to Christ. Forgiveness is truly a ‘breakthrough’ of the Kingdom into this fallen and sinful world”.

Our first challenge for Lent is to receive God’s forgiveness and to forgive.