From the beginning I would like to ask: do we all feel in good standing for this Christmas celebration? Are we all at peace with each other? Do we welcome this festival – so to say – naturally or are we at unrest or hide anxiety, stress or worries within?
If someone would walk through the city streets, the markets and see how people rush here and there, to finish shopping, could say: “How unhappy are these people and how they should otherwise feel, as they find themselves worry on all these things? How unfortunate they are!
How can someone welcome Christmas and celebrate it, I mean every day? As I said today at the Holy Liturgy, we do not only wait for Christmas, but we live it even now. On Christmas day Christ was born. So this fact that Christ was born does not only include the entire time or our whole life, but encompasses eternity, it embraces everything. Therefore, everywhere and every day is Christmas.
Christmas is not a static day enclosed in time as something “magic: as soon as that day comes, we enter in.” Because that day will come and go like any other, unless we are truly prepared for it. And we are prepared when these very days we celebrate, leaven within us and help us. Therefore, what kind of Christmas will someone celebrate when he is not in order, when his soul does not rest in God, when agitation, restlessness, emptiness, hopelessness, or despair rest within? Our whole life in this world lays on hope. Man’ existence is one full of hope. If someone misses this, what can Christmas do for him? If someone doesn’t live this belief, can Christmas mean anything? If they do not have the fullness of God within their soul, can Christmas do something for them?
But what makes man be in good standing? So this question whether are we ready for Christmas, I ask again as we move closer to the feast, to free us from worries and anxieties. Man is not in order when he tries to ignore – as some try to simply forget – nor when he seeks justification or excuses. The one thing that puts man in order, the thing in which man finds rest, is repentance; to repent before God, to humble himself before God, to return wholeheartedly to God. Without repentance there is no Christmas. No matter the circumstances at home, repent before God and before your brothers.
This of course involves the love for God and the love of neighbor. Mo matter how [difficult] things are… For love creates a different atmosphere, another state, then people can truly come together to celebrate Christmas. But I mean true repentance! Again, repentance is not to forget certain things. As sometimes when someone in a certain place feels exposed, he remembers facts, conditions, things that humiliate and grieve him, so he wants to move to another place hoping that he will be placed in order. This is flying from temptations. Of course, sometimes this could be good, if there is no other choice, or because man has no courage to do otherwise, however this does not bring healing. That one thing that man needs, the thing that really helps with his healing is to repent before God for all that he did, for all that he accused Him for. To repent of every sin before God and sinful as he is, with his ego wounded and exposed, or in whatever sate he may be, to have the courage to stand before God. If you have the courage to stand before God, with your sins …, this means either courage or repentance. And of course, everyone can distinguish between the courage and repentance. Otherwise if man conceals his sins, he will hide his true self and will try to appear before God completely innocent. In this case, man becomes unconscious of his sins, or more precisely in psychological terms, he reject his sinful passions in his sub consciousness then he’ll appears before God somewhat repentant, somewhat in order, somehow humble, somewhat upright, [thinking that] perhaps this is how God wants him to be. However, this does not mean putting oneself in order.
Repentance is not as easy as we may think. And please take heed of this. […]
And I would say that repentance is a blessing from God. If God does not give you His grace to repent, you cannot repent. Therefore man must not take repentance at ease. We mentioned another time, what it is written in the Apocalypse (Revelation): There were [will be] disasters, terrible things [will] happened, cities [will be] destroyed, many [will] perished, and yet “people did not repent of their wickedness”. They still did not return to God. And another evil came upon them, another plague, and they still did not repent. And this is written, a second and a third time.
We not certain whether man [humanity] will repent, even when man is going through difficult times, it may only seem that he repents. This kind of repentance that occurs in a forceful way, let’s say in a moment where you are at limit, it is not true repentance; that there is an earthquake or the world comes to its end, and you’re ready to repent… Or the war is imminent, or your life is in danger, so you repent. Such repentance does not hold. For man forsook God, then God abandons man, and man remains unrepentant and although he sees, he hears, he does not intend to return to God in repentance for God to heal him and save his soul.
Repentance is a great wonder. For this we say “Lord Jesus Christ, have mercy on me, a sinner.” This prayer is a work of repentance. I mean that you repent when you ask for His grace, His forgiveness, but also you ask for repentance. It’s like asking repentance when you say: ” Lord Jesus Christ, have mercy on me.” He who asks repentance, unceasingly says: “Lord Jesus Christ, have mercy on me,” and when you neither can, nor that nothing happens to you and you’ll give up, it means that you had no real desire for repentance.
From Simeon Kraiopoulos – “On repentance”