February Message From Fr. Peter

Dear Parishioners and Friends,

Glory To Jesus Christ! Glory Forever

Having just completed a more than five hundred 500 mile journey around the parish blessing homes this past weekend, I was amazed to discover that for the first time in 21 years as a priest, that I forgot last Sunday was the unofficial start of the Pre-Lenten Season.

Concentrating as I was on extending the blessing of the Jordan to your homes and spreading the joy of the Theophany Feast, Last Sunday I neglected to read the Gospel Reading of Zacchaeus, in addition to the appointed readings for the Sunday after Theophany.

Quite literally, it has only been a little more than two weeks since we celebrated Christmas, and only a little more than a week since we celebrated Theophany and now Lent is less than a month away!

But when I think about it, this is what life is all about, ebbs and flows, changing seasons, and constant movement forward. It is exactly what God had in mind when he created the world by the power and operation of the Holy Spirit.

When I reflect upon the Gospel account of Zacchaeus, I am struck by his eagerness to meet the Lord and to change his ways. To overcome his physical limitations, his shortness of stature, he climbed a sycamore tree to get a clearer view of Christ and not miss Him as he passed by. To those around him, he looked ridiculous, but he did not care. And in the end, we know that our Lord noticed Zacchaeus and offered him a precious gift, Salvation. Of all the thousands of people in the crowd, the Lord chose to come to Zacchaeus’ home, an action that puzzled so many others. The Son of God, the Messiah, choose to associate and break bread with a sinful man!

Each time I hear this beautiful and hope-filled Gospel reading, I am reminded of what the purpose of the upcoming Lenten Season is. This season is given to us to be our Sycamore Tree that will lift us up from a state of spiritual inadequacy, and bring us to the heights of heaven, if only we are willing to climb it: If only we are willing to recognize the need and muster up the desire and enthusiasm and a positive “can do” attitude. If we see the upcoming Season of Lent as something positive, as life-giving, then the sky is the limit to the growth and positive change and healing that can come to us. If we chose instead to look with dread upon the upcoming season, focusing instead on the unpleasantness of fasting or the greater demands of the Church on our time by attending more and longer services, we will remain in our state of spiritual brokenness and will be unable to see the Lord and receive the healing we need.

Let us prepare then, as we will sing at Forgiveness Vespers, “...to begin the Fast with joy and prepare ourselves for spiritual effort….so that we may behold the Pascha of the Lord.”

Wishing all of us the courage and zeal of Zaccheus to face our shortcomings and climb the Lenten Sycamore Tree which will lift us up to a clear vision of and deeper communion with our Lord and Saviour, I remain,

With Love in Christ and Prayers,

Fr. Peter