On this last Sunday before Great Lent, the last day that traditionally Orthodox Christians eat dairy products until Easter, the Church remembers the expulsion of Adam and Eve from Paradise. God commanded them to fast from the fruit of a tree (Gen. 2:16), but he did not obey. Adam and Eve, and their descendents, became heirs of death and corruption.
On Forgiveness Sunday many attend Forgiveness Vespers on the eve of Great Lent. They hear on the Lord's teaching about fasting and forgiveness, and enter the season of the fast forgiving one another so that God will forgive them. If you forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will forgive you; but if you do not forgive men their trespasses, neither will your heavenly Father forgive you your trespasses (Matthew 6:14).
The Gospel reading of the day also gives advice on fasting. Moreover, when you fast, do not be like the hypocrites, with a sad countenance. For they disfigure their faces that they may appear to men to be fasting. Assuredly, I say to you, they have their reward. But you, when you fast, anoint your head and wash your face, so that you do not appear to men to be fasting, but to your Father who is in the secret place; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you openly. (Matthew 6:16-18).
Kontakion (Tone 6)
- Master, Teacher of wisdom,
- Bestower of virtue,
- You teach the thoughtless and protect the poor:
- Strengthen and enlighten my heart.
- Word of the Father,
- Let me not restrain my mouth from crying to you:
- Have mercy on me, a transgressor,
- O merciful Lord!
- Sunday of Cheesefare Expulsion of Adam from Paradise from OCA web site.