Cheesefare Week. Forgiveness Sunday, 2012
The establishment of Great Lent goes all the way back to the most ancient period of Christian life. It was established in honor of our Lord Jesus Christ's forty day fast, which he observed at the start of His ministry.
The time of year when the Lord observed His fast is unknown, but the Holy Church placed it for us before Easter. The significance is this: the Lord began His redemptive journey to the Cross with a forty-day fast and ended it on the Cross. The Lord Jesus Christ began his expiatory feat, as the new Adam, with self-control.
A lack of self control was the reason our forefathers were deprived of life in paradise.
Adam and Eve were made pure, holy, sinless, and immortal. They were immortal not in the sense that they could not die, but through obedience they could have achieved immortality. To test the obedience of the humans He had created, the Lord commanded: Of every tree of the garden thou mayest freely eat. But of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it: for in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die (Genesis 2:14-15). (As a helpmate to Adam the Lord created his wife Eve for him out of one of his ribs.)
But Adam and Eve did not enjoy the heavenly bliss of paradise for long. The devil, jealous of the heavenly bliss of the first people, entered into a serpent and through it managed to tempt Eve: Yea, hath God said, Ye shall not eat of every tree of the garden? Eve answered: We may eat of the fruit of the trees of the garden: But of the fruit of the tree which is in the midst of the garden, God hath said, Ye shall not eat of it, neither shall ye touch it, lest ye die (3:1-3). The expression, “neither shall ye touch,” is not in God's command. This shows that Eve gave in to the temptation of the devil, who said: Ye shall not surely die: For God doth know that in the day ye eat thereof, then your eyes shall be opened, and ye shall be as gods, knowing good and evil (3:4-5). And the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was pleasant to the eyes, and a tree to be desired to make one wise, she took of the fruit thereof, and did eat, and gave also unto her husband with her; and he did eat (3:6) This is how the first people fell.
We see here that at the basis of the Fall was a lack of self-control, and that Adam's sin is still active in us, that we sin through lust of the flesh, lust of the eye, and worldly pride, which shows in us primarily in inordinate praise and in censure.
For this reason the Holy Church established Great Lent for us, for us to successfully combat out passions with the help of God. Our task is to shut sinful eyes and open spiritual eyes to see our sins and repent them. For our repentance to be successful we must begin the fast with forgiveness. May the Lord help us in this. Amen.