“Besides this you know what hour it is, how it is full time now for you to wake from sleep. For salvation is nearer to us now than when we first believed; the night is far gone, the day is at hand. Let us then cast off the works of darkness and put on the armor of light; let us conduct ourselves becomingly as in the day, not in reveling and drunkenness, not in debauchery and licentiousness, not in quarreling and jealousy. But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh, to gratify its desires. As for the man who is weak in faith, welcome him, but not for disputes over opinions. One believes he may eat anything, while the weak man eats only vegetables. Let not him who eats despise him who abstains, and let not him who abstains pass judgment on him who eats; for God has welcomed him. Who are you to pass judgment on the servant of another? It is before his own master that he stands or falls. And he will be upheld, for the Master is able to make him stand.” (Rom 13: 11 – 14: 4)
This passage, read today in our churches on the Sunday preceding Lent, (Forgiveness Sunday), offers us two main points to contemplate and internalize, as we enter Lent: 1. Wake up and embrace or “put on” the light; and 2. Let go of passing judgment on others.
Let me let go, on this Forgiveness Sunday, of any darkness and any judgment of others. And let me re-focus on the light of God’s mercy, pouring out abundantly on all of us in the grace of this Lenten season. Let me make things simple, letting go of my complicated, human judgment of others, and all my rationalizations thereof, asking forgiveness even of the “difficult” people in my life on this Forgiveness Sunday, as I re-focus on God and His simple Way of judgment, which is mercy. “Who are you to pass judgment on the servant of another?” the Apostle asks me today. Indeed, I need just to let go of this whole business of judgment, and leave it to God, just like that. “Forgive us our debts,” Lord, just like that, “as we forgive our debtors,” that we may move forward on the upcoming, Lenten journey. We all “will be upheld” by You, as we make our way on that journey to Pascha, as best we can.