Thursday, February 21, 2013

The Triodion – A Time of Reflection

Each year the Church enters a period known as The Triodion (or PreLent) just before the Great Fast. The four Sundays of the Triodion are meant to create in us a desire to correct our sinfulness and seek Christ in our Lenten Journey. We can look at the Triodion as a time for “Spiritual Self-Assessment” or “Self-Evaluation” as we prepare to embark upon the Great Fast.

The first Sunday of the Triodion, the Sunday of the Publican and the Pharisee, is focused upon humility and the mercy of God. Only when we are humble enough to acknowledge that we are sinners, are we strong enough to seek mercy from God. Jesus said, “Everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted.” (Luke 18.14)

The Pharisee (the supposed religious elite) said, “God, I thank You that I am not like other men – extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even as this tax collector.” (Luke 18.12) It is unlikely that he would spend the Great Fast working to improve himself since he already thinks he’s perfect. No one is sinless except for God. Period! Whether we sin so-called “small” sins or “big” sins we still sin and until we can accept that reality, we are not likely to seek God’s mercy in our lives. And if we don’t seek His mercy He can’t give us mercy, not because He doesn’t want to, but because we haven’t asked. God doesn’t force anything upon us, even mercy!

It was the Publican (the sinner) who said, “God, be merciful to me a sinner!” (Luke 18.13) And he was blessed by God. Great Lent is a period of intense spiritual preparation and discipline as both an offering to God and as a confession of our sinfulness. I invite you this year to assess your spiritual life and come to terms with your sinfulness. And then ask for mercy, and be blessed by God.

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