Brilliant!

Psalm 50:           

#15 of a Series on Psalm 50 “Wash Me, And I shall be whiter than snow…”

This image is provided for the sake of those sweltering in the summer heat…


Often, we hear our friends, particularly those from Great Britain use the term ‘brilliant’ colloquially as an explanation of just about anything that impresses – especially an event or a thought. That word carries our theme of the day – the brilliance conveyed in holy repentance that is a result of the spiritual washing from sin, experienced by the Prophet David and those like him who truly repent of their sins of thought and deed. In the ninth reflection we have already discussed the importance of the some of the many dimensions of washing as it is perfectly realized in the sacred washing of Holy Baptism and made mention of the baptismal garment and we’ll revisit that theme today.  This verse also introduces another visual image[i] for us, revealing the spiritual effects of the baptismal washing.  Not only does a person become clean, but much more. David describes the effects of God’s washing of the penitent,’ whiter than snow!’ 

Perhaps you’ve experienced the amazing beauty of a deep, fresh snowfall on a winter day. There is something transcendent in it – a freshness and beauty where the created world has been blanketed in white light.  It conveys something of a new birth and renewal of creation – if but for a time before the forces of nature change the landscape again.  But for that initial period, everything is filled with a kind of perfection and light.

David describes it as even whiter than snow.  Here he sees how the grace of the God’s mercy and forgiveness is so transformative, changing him – his very outlook. His sin in its ugliness has been washed with the purity of God’s mercy and lovingkindness. 

Snowy Brilliance

How wonderful it is to be able to see ourselves in this way – when forgiven our sins!  His ‘I’ – his Self psychologically has been restored.  Perhaps this is one of the greatest hidden graces of sacramental forgiveness that remains unknown to those who have never experienced it – in sacramental Baptism or in the Second Baptism of Repentance[ii] through Confession. So many people today invoke the ‘self-positive’ thinking of our age, but this restoration of Self[iii] from repentance is different.  As the Apostle Paul says, “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new”  (2Cor.5:17)   This newness of life is not just a hiding of sin which continues to have its power over the soul, through the accusation of the Devil – ever reminding us of our past sins, failings, corruption and darkness. 

Bridal Beauty

St. Paul finds an excellent opportunity to offer strong pastoral counsel to husbands in the Epistle to the Ephesians, describing the Church as the Bride of Christ.  “Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave Himself up for her to sanctify her, cleansing her by the washing with water through the word, and to present her to Himself as a glorious church, without stain or wrinkle or any such blemish, but holy and blameless.”  Here St. Paul brings the imagery of the beauty of a bride – glorious and spotless – which is an image of the Church, the Bride of Christ.  Key to this beauty is that the Church, and her believers, must be ‘without stain or wrinkle or any such blemish, but holy and blameless.” So here is David’s imagery of light and purity revisited through St. Paul’s imagery.

The Scriptures have several other helpful passage describing this ‘white light’ imagery.  For example, at the Transfiguration, St. Mark describe the brilliance of the uncreated Light of Jesus in these words, “His clothes became dazzling white, whiter than anyone in the world could bleach them.”  In the very person of Jesus, this light emanates – not a reflected light, but a light which is beyond description, dazzling the apostles Peter, James and John, who cannot even look at it, but are ‘starstruck’.  The holy Eastern ascetic fathers frequently spoke of this, particularly in the hesychastic tradition, where the Christian walking in Christ is a ‘partaker of the divine nature’ and hence reflecting the divine grace of God as a type of light.  A simple reminder to us over the centuries has been the halo that is portrayed in iconography surrounding the saints, as well as the overall transfiguring light portrayed in icons  in the mystical gold background of many icons.

A similar light appears at the Tomb of Christ – as the Brilliant Angel appears to the Myrrhbearers to announce the Resurrection of Christ.

And behold, there was a great earthquake, for an angel of the Lord descended from heaven and came and rolled back the stone and sat on it. His appearance was like lightning, and his clothing white as snow    Mt. 28:2

The Church picked upon this biblical theme of the white garment as a sign of the  brightness of God’s grace through forgiveness in the life of the Christian received in Holy Baptism, and displayed in the bright white Baptismal garment, which clothes the newly baptized person after he or she emerges from the baptismal font.  The Fathers of the Church spoke of this frequently to the newly baptized, who would wear their baptismal garments for eight days.  They were exhorted to keep their garments clean and their hearts pure.

The white garment imagery is revealed in wonderful ways in the Book of Revelation.  In the Marriage portrayal, representing the wedding feast of the Church and the Lamb, we see something similar to that of St. Paul in Ephesians,

For the wedding of the Lamb has come, and his bride has made herself ready.  Fine linen, bright and clean,
    was given her to wear.”
Rev. 3:4

In several other places, those who are tempted, but remain pure and unsullied by sin are seen to be ‘preserving their garment: “ Yet you have a few people in Sardis who have not soiled their clothes. They will walk with me, dressed in white, for they are worthy.”  Rev. 3:4

Concluding Thoughts

The journey of repentance is difficult.  But it leads from darkness to light, from depression to confidence, from sadness to joy.  The washing of Baptism, the clothing with the grace of the Holy Spirit enable the Christian, through repentance, to live a new life in spiritual brilliance.  Even if sin soils our life and conscience, we have the path or repentance to lead us to purity again – and again, and again and again if need be – but only in this life.  Hence, now is the hour of repentance and salvation.  (2Cor.6:2)   Ω 


[i] Word images create in the mind’s ‘eye’ a picture that brings understanding and meaning.  It’s tragic that visual images (iconography) have been resisted in certain corners of  Christendom since the iconoclastic heresy. However, properly executed, a holy image forms a mental image as well – in a sense reinforcing the word images of scripture.  We are an image-laden society, and the need for holy images to inform our consciousness of the teachings of the Church are greater now than ever.

[ii] The Mystery of Holy Penance, also called the Sacrament of Confession, while present as a type in practice from the earliest days of Christianity, had an complex track of development to our practices today. The newly baptized was to remain without sin, for their entire life.  Human nature in its fallen state resulted in many failures and the ‘second baptism’ of Penance was prescribed, since there is and was only one true Baptism.  Eventually, with the development of the monastic practice of regular confession of thoughts to the spiritual father, a confessional practice became much more widespread and was, through the Church canons, linked  to the reception of the  sacrament of the Eucharist – and became restrictive and limiting.  Much more can, and needs to be explored on this topic to bring forth the strengths and weaknesses of both the ancient as well as  contemporary practices in the Orthodox Church on the practice of Confession.

[iii] By ‘Self’ here I mean not just one’s ego, but the entirety of one’s person – mind (nous), spirit, will and body.

Sprinkle Me

         

#14 of a Series on Psalm 50

“Sprinkle me with hyssop and I shall be clean…”

As we work our way through the Psalm, there has been a decided shift in tone – from the darkness of sorrow in sin to a new brightness of hope and anticipation.  These are the fruits of repentance beginning to ripen – bearing fruit as a new repentant mindset that is joyful, anticipatory and trusting.  This is the essence of true repentance (Gr. metanoia) – the change of the entirety of our orientation in life and thinking.  As I write this, we recently celebrated the Feast of the Transfiguration of our Lord in the presence of his disciples Peter, James and John, called “Metamorphosis” in Greek.  I think our understanding of metamorphosis, as manifest, for example, in the complete change of the caterpillar into a butterfly – the same creature was both – perhaps best illustrates just how radical this life shift is.

For most contemporary readers, the phrase “sprinkle me with hyssop.” is probably obscure.  But it is a profound statement rooted in the Hebraic Covenant and middle-Eastern culture.

What is Hyssop?

Hyssop, called ‘za-aatar’ in Hebrew, is a low shrub found in the Middle East which has upright branches and blue flowers, closely related to oregano.  It is used as a flavoring throughout the Middle East and is valued for having healing properties.

Our use of hyssop comes from the Lord’s directive to the Israelites at a crucial moment on the eve of their Exodus from Egypt.

Then Moses called all the elders of Israel and said to them, “Go and select lambs for yourselves according to your clans, and kill the Passover lamb. Take a bunch of hyssop and dip it in the blood that is in the basin, and touch the lintel and the two doorposts with the blood that is in the basin. None of you shall go out of the door of his house until the morning.   (fromExodus 12)

In order to leave Egypt in righteousness, the Israelites must be identified, and purified.  The Passover supper and its rituals, including the anointing of the wood of the doorposts and lintel (uprights and cross-piece) accomplishes this and their obedience to this spiritual ritual was essential to their deliverance from their bondage. This religious, liturgical ritual had a real, dynamic effect in their lives.

The Lord would send the Angel of Death to pass through the entirety of Egypt to kill the first-born of man and animal, but pass-over those homes which adhered to the Lord’s commandments to observe this first Passover, with the eating of the Passover meal and the anointing of the doorposts. This anointing of the wooden doorposts with the ‘blood of the Lamb” would be the means of their salvation from Death.  The Passover ritual[i], using the hyssop to sprinkle the Blood, would identify those aligned with God’s will and saving plan in their lives, as juxtaposed to those who had not accepted God’s will and direction, imitating Pharoah’s relentless opposition to God. The Judgment of God would not be released upon them, because they had faithfully adhered to their Hebrew identity as God’s chosen people through obedience.  Failing that – the judgment of Death would come and destroy them as well. 

Sprinkling with hyssop purifies.  This is where the uncleanness is washed and the people are restored in God’s sight.  Living in Egypt had been a polluting experience for the Hebrew people. They had left their land and become slaves, not only a physical sense but also a spiritual one.  Egypt had become a symbol of subservience not to the Lord, but to worldliness and its power (Pharaoh).  This theme is echoed in the New Testament and the need to flee the pagan world and its lusts.

The Passover out of Egypt and their Exodus through the desert would be a process of restoration to their God-given identity, illumination through the Law, and purification through struggle (asceticism).  The Passover ritual first carried out in obedience, and renewed annually, led to a spiritual purification and rededication of the people, including future generations.  The sacrifice of the Lamb, would be the source of the Blood that would purify the people of the stains of Egyptian life and Egyptian way of life.  An innocent lamb’s life blood would be sprinkled upon the doorposts with hyssop.  The hyssop would convey the saving blood to the place where it would be used for the deliverance of the people. 

Now it’s interesting that David asks for the sprinkling, not upon the doorposts, but upon himself.  He longs for this ‘sprinkling’ with hyssop upon himself.  He realizes the power of God’s deliverance from sin through this sprinkling imagery, and he longs for it with the deepest desire in his heart.  For David, the ritual is inwardly efficacious.  He literally ‘can’t wait’ for Passover, he needs the sprinkling now.  For him, his new awareness through penance has created a spiritual urgency that can only be realized in God’s mercy actualized in his heart making him clean.

This leads us to other mentions of hyssop in several other Old Testament passages. In Leviticus 14 we hear of command of the Lord for the ritual sprinkling of a leper (by the priest) for cleansing of his impurity. Even though the healing already took place, the restoration to the full participation in the Hebrew community life  was incomplete – the uncleanness had to be removed, through the ritual.  This was not a sprinkling for healing per se, for the priest is instructed to go ‘outside the camp’ to visit the leper to determine if he is healed or not[ii].   The apostolic Church realized the biblical fulfillment of this passage in the sacrifice of the High Priest, the Lord Jesus outside the walls of Jerusalem, as ‘outside the camp’, hence among the forgotten and those sick with the leprosy of sin. The ritual is very detailed, but involves a sprinkling of the leper with hyssop and the priest’s offerings on his behalf for spiritual cleansing and thanksgiving.  David’s prayer hearkens this use of hyssop for the cleansing for his own spiritual impurity.  His words of repentance and actions of sorrow would still need a ritual of cleansing by the Lord, through the use of hyssop.

The Book of Numbers (Chapter 19) describes another ritual which uses hyssop – the cleansing of a home where a person had died.  In Hebraic thought, death brought ritual impurity for those in its presence and touching the dead person.  The sprinkling with hyssop by the priest of the tent[iii] and people with water brought cleansing from death.  Again, we can see a connection to the hyssop’s use with restoring purity – in the case of David the impurity of the death caused by sin.

The Hyssop of the New Covenant

The Passover ritual is at the heart of the Christian experience as well, but transformed or perhaps better, Transfigured, by the saving work of Jesus Christ.  The sacrificial Lamb is “the Lamb of God, the Son of God, Who takes away the sins of the world. (Jn.1;29)[iv]  The wooden upright and the lintel crosspiece is a prefigurement of its fulfillment in the wood of the Cross upon which the Blood of Jesus, the Lamb, was shed.  The hyssop would be present at the Crucifixion as well, as St. John also describes,

“A jar full of sour wine stood there, so they put a sponge full of the sour wine on a hyssop branch and held it to his mouth. When Jesus had received the sour wine, he said, ‘It is finished,’ and he bowed his head and gave up his spirit

Here the action of the Lord’s reception of the sour wine on the sponge symbolizes the sourness and bitterness of the His sacrificial suffering.  This he accepted willfully – and He gave up His spirit.  Note that when offered the ‘gall’ (see Matthew’s account) He refused – gall being the analgesic that might have alleviated His suffering.  St. Cyril of Jerusalem offers to the catechumens preparing to be baptized these words,

“Rejoice, ye heavens, and let the earth be glad, for those who are to be sprinkled with hyssop, and cleansed with the spiritual hyssop, the power of Him to whom at His Passion drink was offered on hyssop and a reed.”                                                                                   (St. Cyril of Jerusalem – Catechetical Lecture 3)

The Christian receives the drink of Christ, the blood of His Death, that cleanses of sin throughout one’s person.  For while the ritual uses of hyssop mentioned in the Old Testament above brought deliverance from a ritual impurity, God had much more to offer humankind in the sacrifice of Christ, a Death and a New Life in Baptism into the Death of the Blood of the Lamb that brings a complete deliverance, not just from ritual impurity, but from the sin itself.

 In the Orthodox Church we have implements which represent the hyssop of the Old Testament, notably, the spoon with which we commune Christians with the Blood of Christ.  Fulfilling  this typology we also use a sponge, not on the spoon, but used in conjunction with the preparation of the Gifts of Holy Communion by the priest. We also use a sprinkler for holy water, in many forms – sometimes a horsehair brush, a metal sprinkler, or perhaps closest to the biblical model, a bound assemblage of plant stems (even hyssop).  In each of these, the blessing of God comes to us for salvation and spiritual cleansing. For us, our deliverance from our bondage to sin requires the adherence to that spiritual means afforded to us in the Gospel and the Way presented to us in apostolic Church.  There is no other Way.

Closing Thoughts

The effect of repentance is to become clean.  This becomes awareness that our sin = putrid filth, which is internal, as discussed above.  It is a miracle that our inner uncleanness can be made clean! This is God’s great mercy at work, always within but manifest exteriorly in righteousness and love.

It’s worthwhile noting that this verse reveals the inner deep desire of David the penitent that he might  ‘have it all.’   It is written in the imperative but in humble hope and trust that God truly does forgive.  He says effectively, “If you sprinkle me so, I shall be clean.”  He who committed the most horrible of murder-adultery still believed in the possibility of his total forgiveness and restoration by God. 

This is an important point for every one of us who has ever been tempted to believe that our sin was so heinous that God would not forgive it.  In fact, the Unforgiveable Sin, is the sin against the Holy Spirit, essentially believing the lie that God does not so love me that He would (or could) forgive me.  In effect, this lie of the Devil says, ‘I am unsavable’ – beyond the reach of His mercy and salvation.  It speaks to the need for that self-understanding that emerges only from repentance, for in that restoration of humility we can again see God as the merciful and forgiving Lord who is the Lover of Mankind.  This Unforgivable Sin is nothing less than extreme pride – placing ourself outside of God’s world of grace and mercy and isolating ourselves utterly in our own misery.

Finally, if nothing else, humankind is deeply indebted to David who so completely reveals to us what it means to be human in this way not only through repentance, but through his profoundly deep trust and awareness of God’s mercy and forgiveness, for which he is the Lord’s evangelist without compare.  Ω


[i] Sadly, the forces that work to delegitimize ritual (and in the Church, liturgy) have done a great disservice in Protestantism and contemporary Catholicism, and to a lesser degree, Orthodoxy.  Like the ritual of Passover itself, commanded by the Lord to be celebrated annually by the Hebrews, the meaning of His work is remembered, but more, in a sense, re-lived through the liturgical movements that root people and their experience in the revelation of God’s truth and mercy as revealed in His Covenants, Old and New.

[ii] This is an interesting aspect of the healing of the ten lepers by Jesus, in Luke 17:12ff and consistent with the Lord’s fulfillment of the Old Testament through His divine personhood and ministry. That is transformed when the one leper, realizes his participation in the mystery of healing by Jesus, and returns to give thanks to Him.

[iii] This also hearkens to the Orthodox practice of blessing homes at special times and moments of life, (such as a death or the shedding of blood) but also annually during the Theophany.

[iv] I find it fascinating that this verse begins immediately after St. John’s introductory Prologue – identifying Jesus clearly as the fulfillment of the Old Covenant through the central ritual of the Hebraic faith.  While St. Mark makes every effort to hide the identity of the Messiah, St. John is utterly revelatory in these words spoken by St. John the Baptist, “Behold the Lamb of God…”

You Have Loved Truth

#13 of a Series on Psalm 50

“ For behold, You have loved truth, and your uncertain and hidden things you have made manifest to me.

We’ve taken  a pause from this writing after the conclusion of the 2021 Lenten season and during the celebratory season of Holy Pascha, and an abbreviated Apostles’ Fast.  As we now approach the Dormition Fast in the Orthodox Church we, as a Church turn once again to a more penitent posture, in preparation for and anticipation of the joyful celebration of the Feast of the Dormition of the Theotokos.[i]  So it’s timely again to pick up this verse-by-verse reflection on the Psalm 50 (51), the great penitential psalm of David.  We don’t stop praying Psalm 50 during those celebratory seasons like Pascha, but the penitential spirit as exemplified by the psalm is less of a focus.  As the Lord told his disciples, they are not to fast[ii] while the Bridegroom is present, but when He is gone, they will fast (Mk. 2:19).  In fact, the fasting seasons in the Orthodox Church are special times of penance and Psalm 50 can be a strong witness of that spirit to us.

If the previous verse was mysterious, today’s is strangely celebratory.  In this part of the Psalm there is an amazing shift really – of focus and tone.  The penitent David turns his attention away from Himself, his failings, his weakness, and the origins of his sin.  Here we see the fruit of faith flowering, blooming and producing fruit.  Here we see grace at work in the depths of the soul.

Behold!

Sometimes when I read the Christmas narratives of the Nativity of Christ in the gospels, I’m struck by the language of the text and its use of the word, ‘Behold’ (in Greek ἴδε).  This is one of those great high-sounding ‘biblical’ words that, is spoken not by men, but by angels.  It is a strong imperative – to ‘wake up and see’.  Akin is the idea of ‘stop what you’re doing and look at this!’  That which is to be beheld is too awesome to miss!  Something is breaking through in time and space in a way that is outside of the realm of this world. 

The entirety of the revelation of the New Testament is a Behold moment in human history.  The Gospel is compelling (imperative) because the followers of Jesus have experienced something that simply cannot be passed by or ignored.  From the first ‘Behold moments’ in the Nativity narratives to the shepherds and Magi – ‘Behold, I bring you tidings of great joy…’ – to the presentation of the scourged Christ by Pilate ‘ Behold the man’, to the climactic proclamation  ‘He is not here, He is risen’… Behold He goes forth to meet you in Galilee’ and Matthew’s soaring words on the apostles’ encounter with the Lord, ‘Behold, Jesus met them, saying, All hail!and they worshipped Him.’ Mt, 28:6)  In the same spirit, St. John wrangles our attention when he reports the Lord’s words in Revelation 3:20, “Behold, I stand at the door and knock.”  In fact the entirety of Revelation is about ‘Beholding’ the cosmic divine encounter of Christ and our world. 

So, I would posit that what follows from here on in the psalm is nothing less than revelatory, and invisible to the human ‘eye’ of the heart, unless and until illumined by grace. When we are mired in sin we see nothing of God’s goodness and will vehemently judge the entirety of our life, everyone else’s life, and the whole world as utterly depraved.  But when David says, ‘Behold I was conceived in iniquity’  AND ‘Behold, You have loved Truth and your uncertain and hidden things you have made manifest to me’  we see God lifting David out of his blindness by imparting spiritual insight to his heart, which began when he saw and acknowledged himself as darkened by his sins.   

Before we move on, I want to simply report what everybody knows here – that you cannot convince anyone of their sins as such.  You can present evidence but our human self-protection (denial) mechanisms can be impregnable.  This is why horrific world atrocities (like the Holocaust or the Holodomor or Khmer Rouge famines) can unfold in a desensitized global consciousness even in the presence of undisputable facts.[iii]  But it’s much closer to home when we’ve never allowed the sting of sin to penetrate the soul in such a way that it cracks and the light of a ‘Behold’ moment of grace touches it.  Until then the deceptions rule, marriages crumble, people hate and waste away in the impregnable hell of denial.

But with repentance comes  the second ‘Beholding’– the grounding of life in Truth.

The Good News

God is the God of Truth and truths.  Jesus said, ‘I am the Truth’ (Jn. 14:6) – meaning this is His identity in His divine nature. In God’s truth there is no mistaking, misinterpreting, fudging, covering over, diluting, or misdirecting.  When God speaks we must behold – sit up, listen, obey.  This Truth, as explained by David however, is interactive.  For God’s love for Truth (His Son) by revelation becomes a sharing of the truth with His created world and His most blessed creatures, humankind.  This leads to a manifestation of the Truth to the world – “For God so loved the world, that He sent His only-begotten Son (Truth) “  that we hear in John 3:16, “that for all who believe in Him should not perish, but have eternal life…” This is why Part B of salvation history in Christ is the sending of the Holy Spirit, the formation of the Church and the apostolic mission in the world to bring forth the Truth.  All who repent will eventually long for the salvation of the world in their souls.  The prayer of the Church (us) is for the ‘peace from above and the salvation of souls’ as our savior desires that, “All be saved and come to the knowledge of Truth.” (1Tim. 2)

David was first and foremost a believer.  He placed His trust in the Living God, revealed to Him through the Old Covenant which he received as his spiritual inheritance, taught by his family and lived in the Hebraic community. David received that faith interiorly as well, and engaged in a way of prayerful interaction with God.  In this way, his life was grounded in Truth.  Until he sinned.

When It’s All a Lie

In every case, sin is the result of a lie which has been heard, interiorized and acted upon. From Genesis 3 onward, the pattern is so well known and repeatable – a temptation of the Devil, based on a lie, triggers within the soul a desire for something intemperate and outside of God’s good, life-giving will for us. When we act upon that (like David acting upon his lustful urge) we can’t bear the truth of our fallenness, so more lies are engendered.  Life becomes a Lie.  Lies are tolerated because they reinforce a narrative we want to hear.  Sorry, but “I’m OK, You’re Ok” is a lie.

Behold, You have Loved Truth

But David has had a Behold Moment, and it is undeniable.  It’s a bridge of Truth that leads to God.  It is narrow but walkable and David sees God’s love for Truth and that love comes to dwell in his heart.  He can’t stand to have anything else.  Love of Truth truly is ‘bullet-proof’.  This is what empowered the Christian martyrs of every age to endure all manner of suffering. Suffering and death to self are the gateway to Truth about God, and the Truth Who is God.  When people acquire this Truth it is the ‘Pearl of Great Price’ and nothing will keep them from it.  No longer are the lies of the Evil One to be tolerated but they must be purged from the heart through the tears of penance.  This then shows us why St. Mark’s Gospel, announcing the Christian way, begins with the word Repent.  That can be lived, only when the God of Truth is directing one’s life. Otherwise even our ‘penance’ is self-willed and self-directed and goes only as far as our Self.

The Gospel as a Mystery Revealed

We can see here not only what David saw, but what was previewed prophetically to him, in the fulfillment of the manifestation of the Truth in the Messiah, Jesus Christ.  In the Christian Church, the path of ‘Beholding’ is called illumination, and in the ancient Church, the process of initiation into the life of Christ through Baptism was called the Mystery of Illumination.  Preceded by a process of deep, personal penance (like David), the immersion of the person into the waters of Baptism was their ‘Behold’ moment of salvation and the beginning movement from darkness to light.  Born again in the baptismal waters of grace, this was the Mystery, hidden before the ages, revealed now on earth in the Person of Jesus, the Way, the Truth and the Life.

Note that the Orthodox Church prefers the term ‘Mystery’ regarding what are called in the West, ‘sacraments.’ There is always preserved the notion that the fundamental essence of the Mystery cannot be humanly understood. However, through Christian maturity (in the East, called theosis[iv]), that which is seen in some way is understood in the heart and reflected in the whole of human life.  It is revealed as love, because God is love. David’s path is one of the discovery of divine love as a Mystery, overcoming sin within his heart, by aiding him through repentance. Behold,  even the uncertain and hidden things beyond human knowledge are made manifest to those who have been illumined through the Mystery of God’s grace wrought through repentance.

David’s tears[v] have been a type of Baptism, which has led to his awareness of God and Truth. His life is now able to bear fruit once again as He has not only been washed of his sin, but illumined by the Truth of the Lord.  David says that God has loved Truth – but that also means that God has loved us, because His Truth abides in us.[vi]  While God’s love for us does not end when we sin, we face His judgment because the Truth cannot be found in our midst. (Is. 59:15) Ω


[i] Mary is called ‘Theotokos’ or God-bearer in the Christian East.  Her Dormition was her falling asleep in this life (death) which was a miraculous event reported in Church tradition and celebrated on August 15/28 (Gregorian calendar/Julian calendar)

[ii] The Orthodox Church follows the seasons marked by Pascha and Pentecost, with two short fasting periods – the first running from the Sunday of All Saints (First Sunday After Pentecost) until the Feast of Ss Peter and Paul (Gregorian caledar – June 29).  The Dormition Fast anticipates the Feast of the Dormition running from August 1-14th.The whole relationship of fasting to penance is important, but adjunct to the discussion here.

[iii] The Devil, as the Father of Lies, always obscures facts – either by hiding them, revealing only half of the truth, excusing them, etc.  This happens in both the individual and societal conscience.

[iv] Meaning becoming ‘God-like’.  This is the fulfillment of our creation in the likeness of God wrought by our participation with His grace – divine energies.

[v] Hopefully, there will be an opportunity to address at some  point the ‘Gift of Tears’, which is a grace afforded to those who repent deeply, as this is described in the Church’s spiritual tradition, particularly in the writings of the monastic fathers and mothers.

[vi] The interplay of truth, love, grace, sin and judgment is profoundly explored in St. John’s Gospel, epistles and Revelation.