Beloved brethren, in today's reading from Holy Gospel, Our Lord Jesus Christ is giving us instructions on how to begin the holy season of Great Lent which will begin tomorrow, that is, with forgiveness, with sincere fasting, and with placing our hearts in heaven instead of on earthly riches.
In his commentary on the Our Father, St. Gregory the Theologian says that we are never more like God than when we forgive. Forgiveness, truly, is a divine prerogative and a divine action. When we forgive, we are acting like God! What could be greater than this? Let us ask the Lord to melt our hearts, to forgive our brother any and all offenses, and to enter the Great Lent with a peaceful and undisturbed spirit.
As we begin fasting tomorrow, let us ask ourselves, are doing it to please the Lord? Everything should be done from this desire: the desire to do God's holy will. So we fast not "just because it is a rule," or for our health, for any earthly reason, but to please our Lord, Who has given us fasting not as a punishment but as a gift! By fasting we reverse the sin of our First Parents, who disobeyed God and ate the fruit according to their own will and not His holy will. By fasting, we obey the Lord with our wills, cleanse our bodies, and enlighten our souls. By fasting, we return to Paradise.
The holy Gospel reading today concludes with the words, "For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also." This means that if we are obsessed, fixated on earthly things, then our hearts cannot ascend above and be with God - they will be glued to the earth. During Great Lent, we spend more time in prayer, in Church services, in reflecting on the goal and purpose of our lives. We need to beg the Lord, very insistently, to give us a perspective on our lives based not on any immediate, earthly problems or priorities or desires, but on our eternal destiny: to be with Him forever in the Kingdom of Heaven, or to suffer eternal punishment. If we always kept this in mind - kept in mind the hour of death, Heaven, Hell, and God's Judgment, our hearts would become liberated from the prison of worldly concerns, and we would gladly cleanse our souls, in order to rise above this earth and be with the Lord in heaven - in this life, through prayer, and in the next, through final union with our desired Lord.
May the All-Merciful Christ, Who calls us to prepare for the celebration of His Great and Saving Passion, enable all of us to begin the Lenten season with determination, and with joy!