February 8-14, 2016
Isaiah 1:15-20 - "When you spread forth your hands, I will hide my eyes from you; even though you make many prayers, I will not listen; your hands are full of blood. Wash yourselves; make yourselves clean; remove the evil of your doings from before my eyes; cease to do evil, learn to do good; seek justice, correct oppression; defend the fatherless, plead for the widow.
"Come now, let us reason together, says the LORD: though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red like crimson, they shall become like wool. If you are willing and obedient, you shall eat the good of the land; But if you refuse and rebel, you shall be devoured by the sword; for the mouth of the LORD has spoken." (RSV – Excerpt of the Monday Reading for the Sixth Hour)
The Power of Repentance – Let us become as clean as is possible. Let us wash away our sins. And the prophet teaches us how to wash them away, saying, “Wash yourselves, make yourselves clean, put away from my eyes the evil of your souls.” ... See that we must first cleanse ourselves, and then God cleanses us. He first said, “Wash yourselves, make yourselves clean,” and then said, “I will make you white.” … The power of repentance is then tremendous as it makes us white as snow and wool, even though sin had stained our souls. (St. John Chrysostom)
The icon is a detail of the Expulsion of Adam and Eve from Paradise. The Holy Forty Days Fast in preparation for Holy Week and Pascha began Sunday night (February 7th) after Forgiveness Vespers. The beginning of the Fast is a time when we seek out those whom we have offended and ask their forgiveness, and offer our forgiveness to those who have offended us (whether they seek it or not). It is in this way that we might approach the coming Fast worthily.