On Hope and Repentance | Why we Should Not Despair - Part 1

Updated: Feb 17, 2021

Even if we are saints, all of us feel that we not only sin many times but always. Therefore, we all find ourselves burning in the same furnace. We burn because of our passions, our ego, our sin, our spiritual blindness. But St Peter of Damaskos says: I stress only one thing before the heavenly glory of God and the thrones[1] that will be set up there on the day of judgement: Do not despair, “even if you are not what you should be”. The saint is conjecturing. He does not say, you who are bad or sinful but, he says, “even if you are not what you should be” because sin and being distant from God is not something that is static. We all find ourselves at a certain point in our life, where we are not where we should be. The saint is wanting to tell us – that those who are righteous and those who are unrighteous; good and bad; saints and sinners, no one is perfect. As Apostle Paul says, we move towards perfection[2] but we are always found lacking. For this reason, do not lose hope.

“It is bad enough that you have sinned; why in addition do you wrong God by regarding Him in your ignorance as powerless?”

It is not good that you have sinned. But why are you also wronging God? Here the verb, “wronging” does not have the common meaning in the sense of us doing an injustice to God because our injustice before God is something much deeper. We usually say: I am so sinful that not even God’s mercy can save us. But the saint says: Do not do yourself an injustice because what you are saying is borne of ignorance and from the fact that you do not know God and His love. Why then do you wrong God and consider Him to be weak? Do you have the impression that God is finite and cannot save you from whatever state you happen to be in? What does this mean? Does it mean, perhaps, that God is able to save us even if we commit the greatest of sins? Of course, we know this to be the case. The publican, the thief, St Mary of Egypt, and all the tyrants were saved. However, it does not mean the greatest of sins that we commit because every sin, whether small or great, is relative to the infinite God. Therefore, my small sin and your great or greater sin, are all sins. Since God is holy, every sin in comparison to His holiness, is great.

“Is He, who for your sake created the great universe that you behold, incapable of saving your soul?”

What are you saying? Can God not save you? He who made the entire world, the innumerable number of people and angels and the heavens, can He not save your soul, whatever state it happens to be in? Of course, He can. God’s mercy deigns to come down and reaches not only the exterior aspect of our sin, but also the depths of our soul and searches to find whatever bad we have buried there, in order to heal it.

“And if you say that this fact, as well as His incarnation, only makes your condemnation worse, then repent; and He will receive your repentance, as He accepted that of the prodigal son and the prostitute.”

[1] Cf. Matt. 19:28. [2] Heb. 6:1.

+Elder Aimilianos of Simonopetra

133 views0 comments

Recent Posts