Fr. Mesrop Parsamyan
GREAT LENT: DAY 2
“Have I any pleasure in the death of the wicked, declares the Lord God, and not rather that he should turn from his way and live?” Ezekiel 18:23
During this Great Lent as a period of spiritual renewal, the Holy Scriptures —Asdvadzashunch, literally meaning The Breath of God in the Armenian — remind us of God’s fatherly role and His desire for His children. With the depth of His desires, God wishes for His children, all of us, to return from our wrongdoings and waywardness, and to live eternally in His presence. Just as parents wish the ultimate good for their children, so does our heavenly Father desires the good life for His children. In today's Scripture reading (Ezekiel 18:20-23), God makes two great promises to those who repent and reject their former sinful ways.
The first promise is this: if we reject the ways of the sinful, observe God’s commandants, and walk in the ways of mercy and righteousness, we will inherit eternal life. Often it is our sins that separate and distance us from our God, Who is the inexhaustible fountain of life. And it is precisely due to God’s grace and all-compassionate love that we are able to enjoy His forgiveness and enjoy eternal life.
His second promise to us is this: that if we repent of our sins, God is faithful to not remember our sins and our wrongdoings. We human beings like to remind those who have erred against us that they have wronged us, even if we speak words of forgiveness. However, God neither thinks nor works as human beings do. When God promises His forgiveness, He cleanses us entirely from our sins and graces us with a new future. But He offers us this grace in the understanding that we ought to take our future steps in His righteousness, turning our back to the previous errors we practiced.
God has paved this path of forgiveness and renewal of the human being because He does not wish for anyone to perish in their sins which lead to death. Instead, of walking in the path of forgiveness, each person now is able to turn away from sin and enter a flourishing life. Aprel [to live]– in the Armenian theology is the core understanding of what it means to be saved. He has made a way for His children to live and flourish in this life on earth.
These two promises of God are two cornerstones of the spiritual life. Nothing can dispel or invalidate these promises for the human being, with the exception of each person’s own sins. God loves us in such a way that He provided the path for this flourishing life by sending His own begotten Son to our world, so that through Him we may have life and find salvation. May our response to this unconditional love of God be complete, so that we may turn from our wrongdoings and love our Lord God with our entire being – our heart, mind, soul, and strength (Luke 10:27), now and always.