A certain brother asked Abba Sisoes: "Counsel me, Father, for I have fallen to sin. What am I to do?" The Elder said to him: "When you fall, get up again." With bitterness the sinning brother continued: "Ah! Father I got up, yet I fell to the same sin again. The Elder, so as not to discourage the brother answered: "Then get up again and again. "
Reading: John 16:29-33
29 Then Jesus’ disciples said, “Now you are speaking clearly and without figures of speech.30 Now we can see that you know all things and that you do not even need to have anyone ask you questions. This makes us believe that you came from God.”
31 “Do you now believe?” Jesus replied. 32 “A time is coming and in fact has come when you will be scattered, each to your own home. You will leave me all alone. Yet I am not alone, for my Father is with me.
33 “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.”
Ancient Christians would examine their conscience daily. "Who am I?" we ask. And the answer indicates those places over which we’ve planted a "no trespassing" sign. It sheds light on the many ways we are still very much unlike the Christ we claim to follow. It focuses not so much on our uniqueness as on our shared identity as children of God.
Jesus explains what this means:
You are my friends if you do what I command you. I no longer call you slaves, because a slave does not know what his master is doing. I have called you friends, because I have told you everything I have heard from my Father. It was not you who chose me, but I who chose you and appointed you to go and bear fruit that will remain, so that whatever you ask the Father in my name he may give you. (John 15:14-16)
The first step is to remember that we are in the presence of God, a spiritual fact that is surprisingly easy to forget. The second is to give thanks for all the blessings in our lives, and particularly for specific answers to prayer. The third is to recognise the work that the Holy Spirit has already done and is currently doing in our lives. As we make this inward look, we should avoid both self-condemnation or smug pats on the back.
Once we’ve come to a realistic view of what’s going on inside, it’s time to examine how we are living this particular day. Are we following Christ’s lead? Or are we being swept along by our own emotions and inner turmoil? Are we acting out of love or out of self-centeredness?
When things have come clear, we can then pray for reconciliation with God and whomever we may have wronged, and we resolve to stop sinning in these specific ways.