IN those days came John the Baptist, preaching in the wilderness of Judaea, 2 And saying, Repent ye: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.8 Bring forth therefore fruits meet for repentance: 11 I indeed baptize you with water unto repentance. but he that cometh after me is mightier than I, whose shoes I am not worthy to bear: he shall baptize you with the Holy Ghost, and with fire:( Matthew ,3: 11)
” Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world.” (JOHN -1, 29)
”The sea saw and fled: Jordan was turned back” (Ps. 113:3)
St. John Chrysostom sees a profound shift in the metaphor of the Jordan to the rear. The river originates from two sources, one called Jor, and the other called Dan. From the combination of the two rivers shows that the Jordan flows into the Dead Sea. So the human race came from the grandparents, Adam and Eve. After the defection of the human race marched in sin and spiritual death, which is an allegory to the Dead Sea.But when the Christ entered the river, the Jordan started flowing backwards, in the same way asour lives turn toward our true godly origins when Christ enters into our lives. The events on the banks of Jordan uncovers the deep meanings of the Sacrament of Baptism in Christian practice. During the sacrament we sing “as many as were baptized in Christ have put on Christ”. This reveals the mystical presence of Christ at our baptism.
Archbishop Kallistos Ware
What in fact is meant by repentance? ..We come closer to the heart of the matter if we reflect on the literal sense of the Greek term for repentance, metanoia. This means “change of mind”: not just regret for the past, but a fundamental transformation of our outlook, a new way of looking at ourselves, at others and at God-in the words of The Shepherd of Hermas, “a great understanding.”
Repen- tance is not a paroxysm of remorse and self-pity, but conversion, the recentering of our life upon the Holy Trinity.
As a “new mind,” conversion, recentering, repentance is positive, not negative. In the words of St.John Climacus, “Repentance is the daughter of hope and the denial of despair.”…It is not self-hatred but the affirmation of my true self as made in God’s image. To repent is to look, not downward at my own shortcom ings, but upward at God’s love; not backward with self-reproach, but for ward with trustfulness. It is to see, not what I have failed to be, but what by the grace of Christ I can yet become.
When interpreted in this positive sense, repentance is seen to be not just a single act but a continuing attitude. In the personal experience of each person there are decisive moments of conversion, but throughout this present life the work of repenting remains always incomplete. The turning or recentering must be constantly renewed; up to the moment of death…
The positive character of repentance is clearly apparent if we consider what comes just before the words of Christ already quoted, “Repent, for the Kingdom of heaven is at hand.” In the preceding verse the Evangelist cites Isaiah 9:2, “The people that walked in darkness have seen a great light; they that dwell in the land of the shadow of death, upon them has the light shone.” Such is the immediate context of our Lord’s command to repent: it is directly preceded by a reference to “great light” shining on those in darkness, and directly followed by a reference to the imminence of the Kingdom. Repentance, then, is an illumination, a transition from darkness to light; to repent is to open our eyes to the divine radi ance-not to sit dolefully in the twilight but to greet the dawn. And re pentance is also eschatological, an openness to the Last Things that are not merely in the future but already present; to repent is to recognize that the Kingdom of heaven is in our midst, at work among us, and that if we will only accept the coming of this Kingdom all things will be made new for us.
The connection between repentance and the advent of the great light is particularly significant. Until we have seen the light of Christ, we can not really see our sins. So long as a room is in darkness, observes St Theophan the Recluse, we do not notice the dirt; but when we bring a powerful light into the room-when, that is, we stand before the Lord in our heart-we can distinguish every speck of dust. So it is with the room of our soul. The sequence is not to repent first, and then to become aware of Christ; for it is only when the light of Christ has already in some mea sure entered our life that we begin truly to understand our sinfulness. To repent, says St John of Kronstadt, is to know that there is a lie in our heart ; but how can we detect the presence of a lie unless we have already some sense of the truth?
As the Desert Fathers observe, “The closer we come to God, the more we see that we are sinners.” And they cite Isaiah as an example of this: first he sees the Lord on His throne and hears the seraphim crying “Holy, holy, holy;” and it is only after this vi sion that he exclaims, “Woe is me! For I am lost; for I am a man of un clean lips” (Is 6:1-5).
Such, then, is the beginning of repentance: a vision of beauty, not of ugliness; an awareness of God’s glory, not of my own squalor. “Blessed are they that mourn, for they shall be comforted” (Mt 5:4): repentance signifies not merely mourning for our sins, but the “comfort” or “consola tion” (paraklesis) that comes from the assurance of God’s forgiveness. The “great understanding” or “change of mind” signified by repentance con sists precisely in this: in recognizing that the light shines in the darkness, and that the darkness does not swallow it up On 1:5). To repent, in other words, is to recognize that there is good as well as evil, love as well as ha tred; and it is to affirm that the good is stronger, to believe in the final vic tory oflove. The repentant person is the one who accepts the miracle that God does indeed have power to forgive sins. And, once we accept this miracle, for us the past is then no longer an intolerable burden, for we no longer see the past as irreversible. Divine forgiveness breaks the chain of cause and effect, and unties the knots in our hearts which by ourselves we are not able to unloose.
from Archbishop Kallistos Ware. It is a medley of excerpts from a great article of his entitled ” The Orthodox Experience of Repentance” -“The Inner Kingdom”, pages 46-48 .
In reality the Holy Spirit makes every believer into a God-man by grace.. and the Lord Christ Himself, Whom the Holy Spirit instills in each and every believing soul, in the entire Church. A Christian’s life is a ceaseless, Christ-centered theophany: the Holy Spirit, through the holy mysteries and the holy virtues, transmits Christ the Savior to each believer, renders him a living tradition, a living life: “Christ who is our life” (Col. 3:4). Everything Christ’s thereby becomes ours, ours for all eternity: His truth, His righteousness, His love, His life, and His entire divine Hypostasis. St. Justin Popovich
In one of the prayers before the Sacrament of Baptism, we say that God has spread out the air for us to breathe.
Consequently if we thank God for everything and for every single breath of air that He gives us, we will maintain a humble spirit.
if we want to follow Christ and know totus Christus, the whole Christ, we must learn this way of Christ of “going down/being humbled”. Only this gives us the possibility of convincing Him that we are His. Archim. Zacharias (Zacharou)
We experience God through an ongoing process of metanoia (repentance, “changing of the mind”). In approaching the Holy Trinity, we must continually strip ourselves of all our customary ways of thinking. ”Repentance is conversion, the recentering of our life upon the Holy Trinity.”
That is the essence of repentance.
Troparion (Tone 4)
Be thou ready, Zabulon; prepare thyself, O Nephthalim. River Jordan, stay thy course and skip for gladness to receive the Sovereign Master, Who cometh now to be baptized. O Adam, be thou glad with our first mother, Eve; hide not as ye did of old in Paradise. Seeing you naked, He hath appeared now to clothe you in the first robe again. Christ hath appeared, for He truly willeth to renew all creation.
The voice of the Lord cries over the waters, saying: Come all ye, receive the Spirit of wisdom, the Spirit of understanding, the Spirit of the fear of God, even Christ who is made manifest.
Today the nature of water is sanctified. Jordan is divided in two, and turns back the stream of its waters, beholding the Master being baptized.