Our Holy Father Meletius, Archbishop of Antioch (379-95)
First day of the Great Fast. Abstention from meat, dairy and eggs, and foods that contain these ingredients. According to liturgical prescriptions, the Divine Liturgy is not celebrated today.
Glory to Jesus Christ! Glory forever!
Lent is a time of new beginnings: we reorient our lives towards God through repentance (especially through prayer, fasting, and almsgiving) and, while our sin and alienation from God becomes clearer, so does our reconciliation with him through his Son, Jesus Christ. So it’s appropriate that today’s reading, on the first day of Lent, is about a new beginning: God’s creation of the world.
Genesis describes the world as “without form and void,” dominated by darkness. But God is more powerful than this shapeless mass shrouded in obscurity. Through his Spirit, he creates light to shine on it, and brings it into order, dividing light from darkness, the heavens from the earth, the seas from the dry land. And everything he creates, God declares to be good: out of chaos, God’s brings the best things.
Reading Genesis during Lent, we are reminded of how God gives order and life not only in creation, but especially in his ongoing relationship with humanity. Whenever the men and women of Genesis turn their backs on God, he extends his mercy to them; in the midst of the chaos of human sin, God brings about healing and redemption. So today, our prayer, fasting, and works of charity are intended not to ‘earn’ our way back into paradise, but to teach us how much we are dependent on God for every good thing, how our restoration to paradise and adoption comes through him, how powerful his grace is even in the midst of our sins.