April 17, 2023

Fifth Sunday of Great Lent: Homily on Repentance (Bishop Elias Meniates) - Part 4 of 5

...continued from part three.

There are many examples in Holy Scripture, but among the others is the deplorable one of King Zedekiah of Judah. When he began to reign he was a young man, about twenty years old. His youth led him to many blunders, certainly having the possibility that royal authority gave him. Transgressing every divine and human law, he ran like an unbridled horse without fear towards all impiety and wickedness, dragging into this perdition, by his example, the priests, the rulers and all his people. God wanted the return of the ungodly king, so He mostly sent the prophet Jeremiah, as well as other prophets to instruct him, so that he would return. Jeremiah did it with so much desire, that he did not stop day and night, secretly and openly, sometimes to invite him to repentance, sometimes to rebuke him and sometimes to strike fear in him. But, as the Holy Spirit says, "When an ungodly man comes into a depth of evils, he despises." Zedekiah's heart became very hard. "He did evil in the sight of the Lord his God, and did not humble himself before Jeremiah the prophet, who spoke from the mouth of the Lord."

Yes, but all this until when? "Until the wrath of the Lord arose against His people, till there was no remedy." God raised up the greatest tyrant of the world, Nebuchadnezzar, the king of the Assyrians. He came with a numerous army and surrounded Jerusalem. Only then did Zedekiah remember God and the prophets. He sent people to Jeremiah, begging him to pray so that God would deliver him from the dangerous enemy. But what happened? Jeremiah did not plead, God did not help. The tyrant entered the holy city, trampled the temple, seized the sacred vessels, put a knife through the mouths of all the inhabitants from the greatest to the least, arrested the king himself, slaughtered all his children before his eyes, blinded him and carried him in irons captive, along with those left, into Babylon.

This seems strange! Didn't God not accept the repentance of Zedekiah? No! So many times Zedekiah despised God, so finally God abandoned Zedekiah. Does God sometimes give up too? Yes! But when? "When the anger of the Lord arose." Then there was no remedy.

But here it seems that Zedekiah repented. However, there was no remedy, even though he sent people to Jeremiah to entreat God. With all this "there was no remedy." Why? Because "the anger of the Lord rose." Because when God loses His patience "there was no remedy." So, just as Zedekiah did not want when he could, so the time came when he wanted and could not. And as once he lacked the will, so in the end he lacked grace. In other words, "The righteous judgement of God takes into consideration our disposition. He grants to us according to our inner feelings."

Oh, what a fearsome example, which I cannot explain! I want to be silent and let you figure it out. You by yourself. I want to be silent because the words I had to say about this case, tear apart the soul of the one who will hear them!

But what voice is that I hear? Woe to me! It is the voice of God, Who speaks through the mouth of the prophet Ezekiel: "Son of man, I have made you a watchman for the house of Israel; therefore hear a word from My mouth, and give them warning from Me: When I say to the wicked, ‘You shall surely die,’ and you give him no warning, nor speak to warn the wicked from his wicked way, to save his life, that same wicked man shall die in his iniquity; but his blood I will require at your hand."

So God tells me and can I keep quiet? I will speak, I will speak, without looking "in the face of man," without fear or shyness!

Youth completely uneducated, horses without a bridle, blind without a guide, sheep confused and lost! Incorrigible old men, who have grown old in sin despite your years! You irreverent priests who outrank the laity in scandals! People who do not fear God! Foolishly ambitious women who have only the name of the Christian faith, but none of the works of this faith! God sent you priests who read you the Gospel daily. Teachers who admonish you from the pulpit. Spiritual fathers who interpret for you the matters in confession. All together they invite you to repentance, they rebuke you with your sins, they instill fear in you with the Judgement and hell, but you defy their words, mock their advice, as Zedekiah did with the prophets!

You are hardened in sin, frozen in the habit of evil! And so, I tell you on His behalf: by sin you lived, by sin you will die - "and you will die in your sin"! Such a decision was made by the Son of God in the Gospel. "The anger of the Lord rose." The anger of God was kindled to the fullest, which can no longer suffer you. "There was no remedy." You are dying! You are dying!

There will come a time when sudden death may hopelessly overtake you. It can happen tomorrow, today, at this moment! What if it comes and finds you entangled in the arms of some obscene woman? If you have a stroke? Then, lying on a bed, afflicted with sickness, you will remember only the past, not the life to come. You will be pained by separation from this world, rather than contrite for your sins. You'll want to figure out how to fix your assets, rather than your soul! But even if you want even then to repent, seeing your wife and your children crying around at the head of your bed; your friends and relatives feeling sorry; the doctor who despairs of your illness; the notary who writes your will and testament; the spiritual father who awaits your confession; seeing very close to your eyes imminent death, what kind of repentance will you have with a mind troubled by so much dizziness? What kind of confession with a diseased tongue? And what kind of brokenness will you be able to show with a heart beaten by so many pains? Then will you have the strength to break so many chains of a long habit? How is it possible that you can correct in an hour the evils of a lifetime?

But let's suppose that you will then have the mind and will intact and you want to repent. That is why you send alms, as supplications and intercessions to propitiate God. But does God accept such repentance? Who confirms this to you? Was it when God, in contempt, withdrew from Zedekiah and many others?

Those who lived badly and died well are very few. Those who lived evil and died evil, are innumerable. And as the example of the few gives you hope, why does not the example of the many frighten you? God, in order to give you His grace, aims at your will, but the will is caught by such and such a habit. Perhaps His grace is tired of enduring so long.

God has looked for you so many times and has not found you. Perhaps you too will look for Him and not find Him. He Himself says, "You will seek Me and not find Me." You lived in sin, perhaps you will die in sin; "and you will die in your sin." What then? What a frightening conclusion! You lacked the will once, you will also once lack the grace!

If now that you can, you don't want to repent, then a time will come when you might want to and won't be able to. That's what I wanted to prove to you. I proved it to you, so I feel at rest.


Become a Patreon or Paypal Supporter:

Recurring Gifts

Contact Form


Email *

Message *