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Subhkono “Lord Bless us to forgive”
Posted By Editor On February 11, 2013 @ 1:40 am In Articles,Features,Youth And Faith | 1 Comment
Subhkono or the Service of Reconciliation is normally performed in orthodox churches on the first Monday of the great lent usually after the noon prayers. But in some places they do it either on Sunday night or on Monday evening for convenient sake. Normally the service ends by 40 prostrations and kiss of peace. The readings for the service are the following. We begin the great lent after reconciling with our fellow human beings and with ourselves. Our prostrations, prayers and fasting become meaningless if we don’t reconcile with ourselves and with our fellow human beings. According to some fathers, we must reconcile even with the nature.
The service is all about love and forgiveness, which are the prerequisites for reconciliation. The gospel reading for the day is from St. Mathew chapter 18, verses 18 through 35. That is a story of an unforgiving servant. Through this parable St. Mathew is trying to tell us we all ask for mercy and compassion but we often forget to practice what we ask for ourselves. In the Lord’s Prayer every day we pray “forgive our debts as we have forgiven our debtors”. It becomes meaningful only if we are at least willing to do it. St. Luke reminds us the same thing when he says “be merciful as your father is merciful”.
Read what Prophet Isaiah (58: 3-12) says about fasting”
“Why do we fast, but you do not see? Why humble ourselves, but you do not notice?” Look, you serve your own interest on your fast day, and oppress all your workers. Look, you fast only to quarrel and to fight and to strike with a wicked fist. Such fasting as you do today will not make your voice heard on high. Is such the fast that I choose, a day to humble oneself? Is it to bow down the head like a bulrush, and to lie in sackcloth and ashes? Will you call this a fast, a day acceptable to the Lord? Is not this the fast that I choose: to loose the bonds of injustice, to undo the thongs of the yoke, to let the oppressed go free, and to break every yoke? Is it not to share your bread with the hungry, and bring the homeless poor into your house; when you see the naked, to cover them, and not to hide yourself from your own kin? Then your light shall break forth like the dawn, and your healing shall spring up quickly; your vindicator[a] shall go before you, the glory of the Lord shall be your rear guard. Then you shall call, and the Lord will answer; you shall cry for help, and he will say, here I am. If you remove the yoke from among you, the pointing of the finger, the speaking of evil, if you offer your food to the hungry and satisfy the needs of the afflicted, then your light shall rise in the darkness and your gloom be like the noonday. The Lord will guide you continually, and satisfy your needs in parched places, and make your bones strong; and you shall be like a watered garden, like a spring of water, whose waters never fail. Your ancient ruins shall be rebuilt; you shall raise up the foundations of many generations; you shall be called the repairer of the breach, the restorer of streets to live in.”
We often think that forgiving is an easy thing or it is the sign of weakness and every Tom Dick and Harry can do it. In reality, it is the hardest thing to do. Any one can retaliate or keep the grudge, but only those who have abundant blessing from God can forgive.
Apostle Peter asked our lord about forgiveness. He asked How often shall we forgive. Our Lord replied
“Seventy times seven” (Mathew 18:22). By this answer our Lord was reminding us how patient we should be with the one that trespassed against us. Or in other words, we must be willing to forgive for ever. When our Lord prayed “Father forgive them; for they know not what they do” The only other person who was able to pray like that was our patron saint and proto-martyr, St. Stephen.
Towards the end of the subhkono service, the chief celebrant prays “brethren and beloved ones! Come! Let us reconcile/forgive each other so that our God will reconcile/forgive us. We then repeatedly respond and pray “Lord bless us to forgive” .
Let us repeatedly pray,” Lord bless us to forgive”
For further reading
1 John 4: 11 – 21 (Seeing God through Love)
(Commentary from Orthodox Bible Study)
1 Corinthians 13: 4 – 10 (Love the Greatest Gift)
(Commentary from Orthodox Bible Study)
Matthew 18: 18 – 35 (Parable of the unforgiving servant)
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