The Reading from the Epistle of St. Paul to the Ephesians. (5:8-19)
In the epistle reading today we hear some great words of instruction. The holy apostle writes “Brethren, walk as children of light—for the fruit of light is found in all that is good and right and true—and try to learn what is pleasing to the Lord. Take no part in the unfruitful works of darkness, but instead expose them.”
What it is to be a child of light is to be someone who bears fruit of light. This light is the divine light which comes by the grace of the Holy Spirit. It guides us and shows that when we show fruits that are good and right and true, we are actually showing divine fruit because Christ our God is the source of the good fruit that is in our lives, as our Lord said “without Me, you can do nothing.” St. Paul continues saying “Take no part in the unfruitful works of darkness.” It should go without saying that when we commit sins, we are not being productive or fruitful. We are wasting the valuable time that has been given to us and we are wasting the life with which we have been blessed by God. We have especially wasted the baptism that we have received through the Church. All of it is wasted on the one who partakes of the works of darkness in an unrepentant way. This life of sin cuts us off from God but it never ends there. It starts with being cut off from God but sin does not rest until it has cut us off from our families, our friends and our own right minds.
Sin literally makes us useless to God and useless to our fellow brothers and sisters. Sin makes us dead by deadening our souls but generally speaking sin also makes us like the dead because the dead do not produce fruit, they are of no benefit to anyone (please note that this does not apply to the saints or holy ones). For this reason St. Paul writes “Awake, O sleeper, and arise from the dead, and Christ shall give you light.” This is not merely light like of the Sun and the Moon, or the Christmas lights we see everywhere. This is the divine light of God! This is the light of life. This is the light that I want to fill my soul and during all of the struggles of the day I have to decide what will fill my soul, will it be the darkness of sins or the light of God. Each one is cultivated through our choices and our works. Each one is drawn to us based on the state and the inclination of our hearts. If our heart is seeking after goodness, after God, it cultivates good and finds that it has the fruit of light. If our heart inclines towards sin and madness, we find that we quickly cultivate a garden of filth for our souls and we produce rot and stink and death for ourselves and for those who are near us.
Thankfully St. Paul gives us a way out of such a mess. He says “Take no part in the unfruitful works of darkness, but expose them.” There are many ways that we can expose our sins but I will focus on the most important one, the one that the Church provides for all of it’s people, free of charge. The sacrament of confession.
I have mentioned to people in the past, that there is a significant differencebetween those who confess regularly and those who confess sporadically or never at all. Confession is a powerful medicine given to us directly from the mouth of our Lord Jesus Christ who said to the disciples “receive the Holy Spirit, those whose sins you forgive, they are forgiven. And those whose sins you retain, they are retained.”
Confession is your opportunity to expose your works of darkness to the light. It is not the light of the priest, but the light of Christ that works dynamically in the one who comes boldly and lays his sins at the feet of Jesus Christ. This sacrifice of ego and pride is exactly what the Lord is seeking as the psalmist King David writes “a sacrifice that is pleasing to God is a broken spirit, a humble and contrite heart, you will not despise.” Don’t simply tell God in private that your spirit is broken, and that you are sorry for your sins. Prove that your heart is humbled by opening up and bringing your sins to the place where they can be exposed to the light more fully. Bring them to the place where they can be completely removed by the power of Jesus Christ. The priest is not interested in your sins just as a doctor is not interested in your sickness, he is interested in your recovery. He wants to see you healthy and holy.
How often should we confess? I would recommend that we confess at least 4 times a year (especially before or during the major fasts). You can and should confess more often if you have something serious which needs to be confessed. You should also confess when you feel that you are weighed down emotionally and struggling to pray or to progress in your spiritual life.
It is sad to hear of so many Christians who go to counselors and pyschiatrists and psychlogists without first coming to confess their sins. It reminds us of the Lord’s words when He said that we should never sew a new piece of fabric onto an old garment or put new wine into old wine skins. Both must be new or renewed by Christ! Come and be healed and start on the road to wellness, by receiving what the Church offers for free. Come and expose the darkness of your heart to the light of Christ. Let us awake while there is still time and as St. Paul writes in today’s epistle “Christ shall (indeed) give you light.”! And glory be to God forever, AMEN.