Since ByzCath has recently released an amazing post upon the Great Fast, I would like to share it with our viewers since this is an outstanding witness to the Lord and His Grace.
The icon is of the Ladder of Divine Ascent. In his spiritual classic book of the same name St. John Climacus (whom we commemorate on the Fourth Sunday of the Fast) compares the stages of spiritual growth to the steps upward to heaven on a ladder. At the top of the ladder is Christ, coming from heaven. The goal of the spiritual life is theosis (growing towards God). We are reminded that the meaning of the Fast is so that “you may escape from the corruption that is in the world because of passion, and become partakers of the divine nature.” (2 Peter 1:4)
Isaiah 38:1-6 – In those days Hezeki’ah became sick and was at the point of death. And Isaiah the prophet the son of Amoz came to him, and said to him, “Thus says the LORD: Set your house in order; for you shall die, you shall not recover.” Then Hezeki’ah turned his face to the wall, and prayed to the LORD, and said, “Remember now, O LORD, I beseech thee, how I have walked before thee in faithfulness and with a whole heart, and have done what is good in thy sight.” And Hezeki’ah wept bitterly. Then the word of the LORD came to Isaiah: “Go and say to Hezeki’ah, Thus says the LORD, the God of David your father: I have heard your prayer, I have seen your tears; behold, I will add fifteen years to your life. I will deliver you and this city out of the hand of the king of Assyria, and defend this city. (RSV – Part of the reading for the Sixth Hour on the Fifth Monday of the Fast)
The power of repentance – Do you want to know the power of repentance? Do you want to understand this strong weapon of salvation and the might of confession? By confession Hezekiah routed 185,000 of the enemy. That was important but it was nothing compared with what else happened. The same king’s repentance won the repeal of the sentence that God had passed on him. When he was sick, Isaiah had said: “Set your house in order; for you shall die, you shall not recover.” What expectation was left? What hope of recovery was there? The prophet had said, “You shall die.” But Hezekiah remembered what was written: “In returning …you shall be saved.” He turned his face to the wall, and from his bed of pain his mind soared up to heaven (for no wall is so thick as to stifle fervent prayer). He said, “Lord, remember me.” … He whom the prophet’s sentence had forbidden to hope was granted another fifteen years of life. (St. Cyril of Jerusalem)