This Sunday Orthodox Christians complete their preparation for Great Lent by hearing some unexpected words from our Lord Jesus Christ.
If you forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you, but if you forgive not men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses. Mark 6:14-15
Love is unconditional. Forgiveness is conditional. Forgiveness is granted, to be sure, but it is conditional. Forgiving others conditions us to receive forgiveness. So, if we are unable to forgive we are unable to be forgiven.
This should make our hearts skip a beat.
Following Divine Liturgy this Sunday we Orthodox will celebrate the Forgiveness Vespers with the Rite of Mutual Forgiveness. Every person in the parish, including our children, make a line and go through asking each person for forgiveness. We hear and say repeatedly, “Forgive me a sinner.” And in response, we hear and say repeatedly, “God forgives and I forgive.” Beautiful and powerful.
Then Monday is go time.