Daily Reflection April 15th, 2020

Daily Reflection April 15th, 2020


The woman had fallen into many sins, O Lord,
yet, when she perceived Your divinity,
she joined the ranks of the myrrh-bearing women.
In tears she brought You myrrh before Your burial.
She cried: “Woe is me!
For I live in the night of licentiousness,
shrouded in the dark and moonless love of sin.
But accept the fountain of my tears,
O You, Who gathered the waters of the sea into clouds!
Bow down Your ear to the sighing of my heart,
O You, Who bowed the heavens in Your ineffable condescension!
Once Eve heard Your footsteps in Paradise in the cool of the day,
and in fear she ran and hid herself.
But now I will tenderly embrace those pure feet
and wipe them with the hair of my head.
Who can measure the multitude of my sins,
or the depth of Your judgments, O Savior of my soul?//
Do not despise Your servant in Your immeasurable mercy!”
(Hymn of Cassia, Holy Wednesday Matins)

Fr John’s Reflection

Holy Wednesday is the day of Holy Week perhaps more than any other that highlights the contrast between good and evil, light and darkness, life and death. This contrast is made present in the persons of Judas the betrayer and the sinful woman highlighted in the beautiful Hymn of Cassia shown above. There are debates in the Church about just who this sinful woman is exactly. Some claim that it is Mary, the sister of Lazarus, who anointed Christ with oil as related in the Gospels. Some claim it is Mary Magdalene, out of whom “seven demons are cast out.” Some claim it is another. In any event, the hymn poetically proclaims the witness of this woman. Despite her sins, she “perceived His divinity” and, unlike Eve, who ran and hid herself in embarrassment of her sins, embraces the pure feet of Christ, anointing with oil and washing them with her tears. This “sinful woman” begs for and depends upon the immeasurable mercy of Christ. She is saved by the fountain of her tears.

Contrast her with the disciple who walked with Jesus, who talked with Him, who heard all the teachings, who saw all the miracles, who witnessed Lazarus raised after four days in the tomb, and who sat at the Last Supper, only to leave that meal to go and sell the Priceless One for thirty pieces of silver. His betrayal is horrible, but made perfectly monstrous by the circumstances of his proximity to the Lord. We can read that story of betrayal and wonder how? How could someone who saw everything that Judas did do what he ended up doing? I wouldn’t do that! But the spiritual reality is that this day reminds each and every one of us that betrayal of the Savior is only a breath and a decision away. The prayer today, Holy Wednesday, as these two intimates of Christ make clear to us is this: Please, Lord, let me have just a little more of the spirit of the sinful woman who witnessed nothing of your ministry in my soul. And please let me have just a little less of the spirit of the disciple who witnessed everything but saw nothing. Let me not betray You, O my Christ! Glory to God!

Spend the rest of this week following the services as best you can, and read the prescribed readings at oca.org. For the services we cannot have at St. Paul’s, you can see the services of Metropolitan Tikhon at St. Tikhon’s Monastery (live or at your convenience) at: