Final thoughts from Metropolitan Tikhon
Metropolitan Tikhon's Lenten message for 2023 has many great points for the Lenten journey. So, we have divided it into three parts to allow for greater benefit.
We are also filled with hope because our cleansing is finite; we are headed towards an End. Yes, our purification lasts for a time—throughout this Lent, throughout this life, throughout our dying and passage to eternal life. But our purification, and the means of our purification, are bound to end. Just as God used Assyria to correct the Israelites of old, but then promised to “break the Assyrian in my land” (Is. 14:25), so God uses the time of our exile from paradise, the conditions of our mortality, to bring us to repentance and, we hope, to some measure of holiness. At the beginning of the fast, we leave the garden with our first parents; at the end of the fast, we return again with Christ. And this is the pattern of our life in this world. We are thrown into mortality because of sin, but the Lord uses our mortality to correct us, to turn our attention back toward him. And then mortality will have done its work, and it will be cast away. In the end, the Lord who is the End, who tramples down death by death, will defeat death, the last enemy (1 Cor. 15:26).
In order to overcome the consequences of our sin, Jesus Christ has taken on our nature; he is wounded to heal our wounds; he dies in order to put death to death. But his identification with us does not merely heal our nature; it also allows our greater identification with him. As the prophet Isaiah will announce on Holy Saturday, the Lord clothes us, unworthy though we be, in “the garments of salvation” and the “robes of righteousness” (Is. 61:10). These garments are not of our own making; they are the garb of his salvation and his righteousness. We are not only saved from sin and death; we are remade into the likeness of his goodness and his justice. “You shall be called by a new name which the mouth of the Lord will give. You shall be a crown of beauty in the hand of the Lord… for the Lord delights in you” (Is. 62:2–4).
And so, as we enter into the mystery of the Lenten struggle, as we prepare to encounter the great mystery of the Lord’s Passion and Rising, let us be “willing and obedient,” making our efforts in good faith but relying on the Lord to cleanse us, fill us with hope, and lead us always closer to himself, who is the End for whom we are made, and who desires to fill us with good things, now and throughout eternity. To him be all glory, unto ages of ages.
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