The Service of Reconciliation (or Teshmeshto d’shubqono) was celebrated in all the parishes of the Exarchate on the first day of the Great Lent. It is preparation for the Great Lent. It is a special service which emphasizes reconciliation both with God and with our fellow men. During the Service of Reconciliation, the Gospel reading (Mt 18: 18-35), invites us to reflect whether we will forgive those who have wronged us or whether we will be like the servant who, though he was forgiven, did not forgive his fellow servant. Knowing that we have received the Lord’s mercy and have been reconciled in, through, and by Him, we must show mercy to our brothers and sisters.
The other major themes of this service and this week are love, pardon, and repentance. The Scripture readings for the Order/Service of Reconciliation reflect these themes as well: 1 Jn 4:11-21; 1 Cor 13:4-10; Mt. 18:18-35.
The most moving part of the Order of Reconciliation is the mutual petitions for forgiveness. The celebrant(s) prostrates before the congregation three times and they, likewise, prostrate before him, with everyone asking forgiveness of each other.
While any number of words can be used to describe the service further, the experience of exchanging the sign of peace with all the members of the congregation after the Order of Reconciliation is one that will mark the whole Lenten season and one which words can only inadequately capture.
By the exchange of peace and the outward signs of penance, which we begin after the Shubqono Service, we pray that our hearts become habitations of tranquility and our minds, havens of peace, as we journey toward Easter.
This year, the Bishop of the Exarchate celebrated the Service of Reconciliation at the newly-established St. Mary’s Malankara Catholic Parish of Chicago, in Evanston, Illinois. The Pastor of St. Mary’s Church, Rev. Mathew Perumbillikunnel, assisted the Bishop.