Triodion, an Introduction

This month on February 13th our Church begins the Triodion, a period of three weeks that precedes the beginning of Great Lent. The Gospel lessons for this period are the Publican and the Pharisee (Luke 18.10-14), the Prodigal Son (Luke 15.11-32) and the Last Judgment (Matthew 25.31-46). These three lessons are meant to help us enter the right spiritual frame of mind before we begin the Great Fast.

The Gospel lessons are straight forward each of them reflects basic spiritual principles of Christian faith. In the first we highlight the virtue of humility. We learn that without humility any of our spiritual efforts will be ineffective. In the second we are reminded of the need to repent and also of the great love that God has for each of His children. In the last we are reminded of the final phase of this life, the judgment of our soul by Jesus Himself. In this passage we learn that our spiritual development must result in love for those in need or what we call love in action.

Each year our Church returns to these basic principles. Our Church understands the challenges we face by living in the world. We know that it is not easy to begin or maintain a spiritual life that transforms us into children of light and truth. It is with great love and gentleness that we are called again to listen to the voice of Christ and enter the Way of Life.

The spiritual principles listed above are important and essential in every Christian’s life. Any one of them can lead us to God and to a richer and more active faith. I would like to highlight one of them in this message. Specifically I would like to call your attention to the narrative of the Prodigal Son. It is one of the most beloved passages of the Gospels and it has been said that if we were to lose the entire New Testament save this one passage we would still have the essential message of the Gospel. Namely that God’s loves us.

So great is His love for us that He waits day and night searching even the distant horizon for any one of us who has lost their way. Once He spots us He runs to embrace us and as the Gospel records it, He falls upon our neck with many tender kisses. It is hard at times to imagine God in this way especially when we have become estranged.

In the story of the Prodigal Son we realize our own condition of willful disobedience. Our disobedience arises because of pride, this type of pride sets us on a course of isolation and involves the pursuit of personal gratification. It is a course we wrongly think will bring us freedom and happiness. Anyone who has traveled this path can attest to its fruitless character. In time we run out of things to amuse ourselves with and we find within an emptiness that cannot be filled. We may for a time continue to seek pleasure and fulfillment in the world and we may even stay on this path for several years and even a lifetime. Regardless we will discover that it is a false life.

The Prodigal Son we read comes to his senses one day while he is rolling around in the mud of his new existence. He recalls how good he had it at one time living within the clean and loving walls of his father’s house. He realizes that his new life is not so free or happy after all and maybe it would be better to return and live even as a servant instead of a son in his father’s home.

In the span of this past year it may be that some of us have left the embrace of our loving Father. If this is true the period of the Triodion is set aside for us to “come to our senses.” To realize that our life can be truly better than it is and by better I don’t mean rich with regards to the externals. Jesus Christ put it best when He said, “Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal; but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also (Matthew 6.19-21).”

We can with the help of God and within the community of Saint Spyridon resolve to return and renew our relationship with God. We can focus on His love and the real freedom and joy that comes from living within the safe confines of His home and under His guidance. If we return we will find a loving God who awaits us and will robe us in glory. We are meant to live in our Father’s home not as servants but as His beloved children. I hope that I can set out on this journey to return to my true home this Lenten season and that all of you will as well.

+Father Evan