A brother questioned Abba Poemen saying, If I see a brother whom I have heard is a sinner, I do not want to take him into my cell, but when I see a good brother I am happy to be with him.’ The old man said, If you do a little good to the good brother, do twice as much for the other. For he is sick. Now, there was an anchorite called Timothy in a coenobium. The abbot, having heard of a brother who was being tempted, asked Timothy about him, and the anchorite advised him to drive the brother away. Then when he had been driven away, the brother’s temptation fell upon Timothy to the point where he was in danger. Then Timothy stood up before God and said, “I have sinned. Forgive me.” Then a voice came Poemen (called the Shepherd) [177 which said to him, “Timothy, the only reason I have done this to you is because you despised your brother in the time of his temptation.” (70, From: Sayings of the Desert Fathers: The Alphabetical Collection by Metropolitan Anthony of Sourozh (Preface), Benedicta Ward (Translator) )
Abba Elias, the minister, said, ‘What can sin do where there is penitence? And of what use is love where there is pride?’
St. Nikolai Velimirovic
“He who has no patience with us when we sin does not love us. Neither does he love us who does not forgive us when we repent of our sin. And he loves us leasto of all who does not rejoice at our improvement. Patience, forgiveness and joy are the three greatest characteristics of divine love. They are characteristic of all real love…. Without these three characteristics, love is not love. If you give the name “love” to anything else, it is thought you were giving the name “sheep” to a goat or a pig.
In the parable of the Prodigal Son, The Lord Jesus has given us a picture of real, divine love, painted in such clear colors that it pulsates with life before our eyes, as this world does when, after the darkness of night, the sun shines forth. Two thousand years have not dulled the colors of the picture, and they will never be dulled as long as there are men on earth, and God’s love for them. On the contrary, the more sinful men become, the more vivid is this picture: the more vivid and the fresher.”
“One needs to distinguish a sinner from a penitent. If you have taken upon yourself the role to rebuke the sinner, guard yourself well, that you do not rebuke the penitent also. How dear the repentant sinner is to God, call to mind the Parable of the Prodigal Son. Therefore, let it be very dear for you, he who has become dear to God. At one time it happened that a monk succumbed to sin for which he was banished from the monastery. This monk went to St. Anthony, confessed his sin, repented and remained with Anthony for a period of time. Then Anthony sent him back again to the monastery but they did not receive him and, again, they banished him. Again, the penitent came to Anthony. Again, Anthony sent him back to the monastery with a message to the fathers of the monastery: ‘One boat experienced shipwreck and lost its cargo; with great difficulty did that boat arrive in the harbor and you wish to drown even that which was saved from drowning!’ Hearing this wise message, the fathers received with joy the penitent brother into the monastery.”
Tone 3 Kontakion (from the Lenten Triodion)
I have recklessly forgotten Thy glory, O Father; and among sinners I have scattered the riches which Thou gavest me. And now I cry to thee as the Prodigal: I have sinned before Thee, O merciful Father; receive me as a penitent, and make me as one of Thy hired servants!
Tone 1 – ‘Lord, I have cried unto Thee…’
Brethren, our purpose is to know the power of God’s goodness,
For when the Prodigal Son abandoned his sin,
He hastened to the refuge of his Father.
That good man embraced him and welcomed him:
He killed the fatted calf and celebrated with heavenly joy!
Let us learn from this example to offer thanks to the Father who loves all people,
And to the Victim, the glorious Saviour of our souls!
Doxastikon in Tone Six
Loving Father, I have gone far from you, but do not forsake me, nor declare me unfitted for your Kingdom. The all-evil enemy has stripped me naked and taken all my wealth. I have squandered like the Profligate the graces given to my soul. But now I have arisen and returned, and I cry aloud to you, ‘Make me as one of your hired servants, You who for my sake stretched out Your spotless hands on the Cross, to snatch me from the fearsome beast and to clothe me once again in the first robe, for You alone art full of mercy’.
Sessional Hymn, Tone 1
Hasten to open Thy Fatherly embrace to me,
For I have wasted my life as the Prodigal.
In the unfailing wealth of Thy mercy O Saviour,
Do not reject my heart in its poverty.
For I cry to Thee with compunction, O Lord:
Father, I have sinned against heaven, and before Thee!