Today, on the eve of Great Lent, is Forgiveness Sunday:
Before we enter the Lenten fast, we are reminded that there can be no true fast, no genuine repentance, no reconciliation with God, unless we are at the same time reconciled with one another. A fast without mutual love is the fast of demons. We do not travel the road of Lent as isolated individuals but as members of a family. Our asceticism and fasting should not separate us from others, but should link us to them with ever-stronger bonds.
The Sunday of Forgiveness also directs us to see that Great Lent is a journey of liberation from our enslavement to sin. The Gospel lesson sets the conditions for this liberation. The first one is fasting — the refusal to accept the desires and urges of our fallen nature as normal, the effort to free ourselves from the dictatorship of the flesh and matter over the spirit. To be effective, however, our fast must not be hypocritical, a “showing off.” We must “appear not unto men to fast but to our Father who is in secret” (vv. 16-18).
The second condition is forgiveness — “If you forgive men their trespasses, your Heavenly Father will also forgive you” (vv. 14-15). 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. Forgiveness is truly a “breakthrough” of the Kingdom into this sinful and fallen world.
There were thousands of beautiful works of art at this year’s Burning Man festival in Nevada, but there’s one that really caught people’s eyes and invited them to interpret its meaning. ‘Love,’ by Ukrainian sculptor Alexander Milov, features two wire-frame adults sitting back to back with their inner children reaching out to each other from within. At night, the inner children lit up as well.
You’re free to come to your own conclusions about the piece’s meaning (and share them with us in the comments), but here’s what Milov wrote about the piece on the festival’s website:
“It demonstrates a conflict between a man and a woman as well as the outer and inner expression of human nature. Their inner selves are executed in the form of transparent children, who are holding out their hands through the grating. As it’s getting dark (night falls) the children chart to shine. This shining is a symbol of purity and sincerity that brings people together and gives a chance of making up when the dark time arrives.”