The first Sunday of Great Lent is a landmark for us on our journey to Pascha. In the weeks prior we heard lessons of humilty and the dangers of pride, of repentance and forgiveness. The final weeks of the pre-Lenten Triodion taught us that our love of God is made manifest by our love for our neighbor and that our life on Earth is a life in exile. Adam’s sin has separated us from paradise but the Saviour is the door and the way that leads us back.
Why is it that the Fathers set forth this first Sunday to make remembrance of all those who contested for the faith, preserving it undefiled by heresy? Why such an emphasis on the final Ecumenical Council, which condemned Iconoclasm? As we will find in the coming weeks, each Sunday of Great Lent teaches us something new, something that is critically important for our salvation. This begins with true faith. Before we can begin our struggle to God, we must have right belief. True faith is what strengthens us for struggle. True faith helps us see the virtue in ascetic exercise. Through the Grace of God, true faith is what leads us to salvation.
This may sound odd, but we must become “new iconoclasts” shattering the false icons and images of worship of this new world. The world no longer recognizes the divinity of Christ. It no longer offers reverence to His sacred images. The world has replaced the icon of Christ, it has replaced the icon that man was mean to be – made in the image and likeness of God – with a new creation of selfishness, laziness, and apathy. Beloved, we must cast aside the new icons of this sad time.
May our Lord strengthen us in our struggle, not only during Great Lent, but throughout our lives that we may be deemed worthy to return again unto that blessed promised land.
Good Strength for this most blessed season!