On this day we celebrate the return of Icons into our life in the Church. They were lost and now they are found, they were ‘dead’ to our awareness but now they are ‘alive’ and fill us with their life.
We are immediately led to recall the Parable of the Prodigal Son, three Sundays before Great Lent. We could not be together this year in our reduced, ‘lost’ state, but perhaps it is worth considering in our celebration of Orthodoxy, a celebration of restoration.
In the parable, the younger brother, restless in the confines of the home where he had been born and brought up, seeks to explore the world and demands the wherewithal to do this. His Father, out of unconditional love, allows him to go and gives him a good endowment. The young man goes off to a far country and wastes his life in prodigality, this simply means recklessly wasteful, and we should not accept the older brothers’ thoughts without consideration. The Publican, the Pharisee and now the Prodigal are chosen to remind us of aspects of ourselves, and our lives past, as we stand before God in Great Lent. The central theme of the story is not prodigality but restoration and a new beginning. The younger brother, the parable explains, ‘came to himself’, realised what a mistake he had made, and so returned to his father’s house and his Father, ‘seeing him afar off’ runs out to meet him, to welcome him back, to put upon him a robe (of righteousness), a ring on his finger (the signet of reintroduction to the family), and sandals on his feet (of the Gospel of Peace). My son ‘was dead and is alive again and was lost and is found.’
With the rediscovered icons, found and ‘alive’ again, we too, in Great Lent are found again and made alive again. Fasting, almsgiving and prayer helps us to return to our Heavenly Father, to have our robe, ring and shoes restored in this wonderful season. It is a season of repentance, turning again, and a season of Great Joy.
Perhaps more than ever this year, as lockdown is eased, we are not only fully restored and welcomed into the home of our Heavenly Father, however much we have been prodigal during the past year, but we are also able to gather again as members together of His loving family.
Restored, as were the Holy Icons, we go forward into the Restoring Grace of Great Lent.
May God bless us and guide us.
This mainly contains homilies and messages from our priests, although there is some scope to share thoughts and interesting articles which we may want to share with others