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Ascending the Heights One Step at a Time Step 5 In the 7th Sunday Morning Resurrection Gospel (John 20:1-20)

we hear how the Apostle Paul hearing of the empty tomb outruns Peter. Once John outran Peter, and now obedience is placed before repentance. For the one who arrived first represents obedience, the other repentance. With these words, St John Climacus introduces us to Rung Five of the Ladder which leads us to heaven. 1. John is known for his Obedience.Last week we heard Father Chris speak on Obedience. Today we speak on repentance: 2. St. John Climacus: His definition of repentance is striking: a. Repentance is the renewal of baptism b. It is a contract with God for a fresh start in life. c. Repentance goes shopping for humility and is ever distrustful of bodily comfort. d. Repentance is critical awareness and a sure watch over oneself. e. Repentance is the daughter of hope and the refusal to despair. f. (If we are penitent, we may be guilty but not disgraced.) g. Repentance is reconciliation with the Lord i. This can be done with the performance of good deeds which are the opposites of the sins. h. Through repentance we find purification of our conscience i. We voluntary endure affliction. 3. A man seeking advice from an elder received this word of instruction. a. The monk looked at him and said: 4. You spend too much time trying to do everything right. You try too hard to be successful. This is your problem. You are not good enough to make it to heaven on the basis of your good deeds, but you don't repent enough to make it on the basis of your sorrow. Try harder to repent and you shall be saved. a. More than anything else Our ultimate goal is to repent, i. Our efforts should be in finding our faults rather than noticing our accomplishments. b. We should contemplate our failures more than our successes. i. "Failure is only the opportunity to begin again, only this time more wisely."Henry Ford c. We need to take responsibility for our actions: i. All blame is a waste of time. No matter how much fault you find with another, and regardless of how much you blame him, it will not change you. The only thing blame does is to keep the focus off you when you are looking for external reasons to explain your unhappiness or frustration. You may succeed in making another feel guilty about something by blaming him, but you won't succeed in changing whatever it is about you that is making you unhappy. Unknown author 5. We need to accept the rebukes of others as just and worthy. And we should accept the disappointments and difficulties of life without complaint. 6. St. John stated: a. A proof of our having been delivered from our failings is the unceasing acknowledging of our indebtedness. b. A sign of true repentance is the admission that all our troubles, and more besides, whether visible or not, were richly deserved. c. Without repentance no one will ascend the Ladder to heaven.

7. This is why Satan works so hard at keeping us from true repentance. Satan uses any means possible to distract us. a. God is merciful before a fall, inexorable after-so the demons say. And when you have sinned, pay no attention to him who says in regard to minor failings: "If only you had not committed that major fault! This is nothing by comparison." The truth is that very often small gifts soften the great anger of the Judge. 8. Regardless of what good we do. We need to keep track of that which we have done that is bad and mourn it. a. We ought to be on our guard, in case our conscience has stopped troubling us, not so much because of its being clear but because we may be desensitized by sin. 9. The way to God is hard, and not everyone that enters the race will receive the prize. a. Juxtapose this to today's society that gives the trophy to all. b. God loves us and desires that all be saved and come to the knowledge of the truth. c. But not all are willing to endure the suffering and pain that come from embracing the truth about themselves. 10. Only the humble and the penitent can be saved, because only the humble and penitent are willing to embrace despair of themselves. 11. It is only despair of self which leads to true faith in the Infinite Other, who alone can save. (Peter vs. Judas) 12. We must be very careful as Orthodox Christians not to fall into the heresy of Origen, who taught that all will be saved. 13. St. John's words are addressed to us: All of us ... should be especially careful not to be afflicted with the disease of the godless Origen. This foul disease uses God's love for man as an excuse and is very welcome to those who are lovers of pleasure. 14. We need to understand that Sin is serious! To offend God who is loving and merciful is monstrous evil. 15. To turn away from His compassion and to follow our own way is the height of rebellion and the greatest offense. 16. Even the littlest offense is worthy of eternal hellfire! We need to bow before God and beg of Him the forgiveness of our sins. We need to ask Him to remove far from us coldness of heart and insensitivity to offense. Let us stop pretending that we are living a pure life and be honest of our failings and by doing so partake of the sacrament of Confession. The Greek term for repentance, metanoia, denotes a change of mind, a reorientation, a fundamental transformation of outlook, of man's vision of the world and of himself, and a new way of loving others and God. Through repentance you have reached the fifth step. You have, in this way, purified the five senses, and by choosing to accept punishment have thereby avoided the punishment that is involuntary. Accomplish these and you will have ascended the fifth rung of the ladder!!