Today is the last Sunday before the beginning of lent called Forgiveness Sunday in the Eastern Christian Church. On this day the gospel reading is the sermon on the mount, which refers to the forgiveness of injuries to others.
We’ve all heard it many times. In fact, Eastern Rite Christians who regularly attend services probably have the text memorized. The liturgical codification of the sermon on the mount is known as the Beatitudes, which is the third antiphon sung in the Divine Liturgy on most days of the year. The content of the Beatitudes contains the fundamental teachings by which Jesus’ disciples are to conduct their lives, for these precepts lead to theosis (union with God).
The message of the Beatitudes can be called “the way of the blessed.” In Jesus’ upside-down world: the meek inherit the earth; the peacemakers are blessed as the children of God; the pure of heart see God; the merciful receive mercy; and, those who forgive are forgiven. These are the virtues that lead one along the path of light, hope, freedom, and salvation.
On this day as clergy and parishioners ask each other forgiveness, let us especially pray that we may walk the “way of the blessed,” the path of light and peace, today and every day of our lives.