Daily Reflection April 21st, 2020

Daily Reflection April 21st, 2020



“Guard your heart!” These words were spoken in the past by experienced ascetics. Father John of Kronstadt says the same thing in our days: “The heart is refined, spiritual and heavenly by nature. Guard it. Do not overburden it; do not make it earthly; be temperate to the utmost in food and drink, and in bodily pleasures in general. The heart is the temple of God. If any man defile the temple of God, him shall God destroy (1 Corinthians 3:17).” Spiritual experience in ancient times and spiritual experience in our time is identical, under the condition that the confession of faith is identical. The heavenly knowledge to which the ascetics of old attained does not differ from the heavenly knowledge to which the ascetics of today attain. For, as Christ is the same today and tomorrow, so it is with human nature. The main thing is: the human heart is the same; its thirst and its hunger are the same; and nothing is able to satisfy it but the glory, power and riches of God. (St. Nikolai Velimirovich, Prologue from Ochrid)

Then they drew near to the village where they were going, and He indicated that He would have gone farther. But they constrained Him, saying, “Abide with us, for it is toward evening, and the day is far spent.” And He went in to stay with them.

​Now it came to pass, as He sat at the table with them, that He took bread, blessed and broke it, and gave it to them. Then their eyes were opened and they knew Him; and He vanished from their sight. And they said to one another, “Did not our heart burn within us while He talked with us on the road, and while He opened the Scriptures to us?”

So they rose up that very hour and returned to Jerusalem, and found the eleven and those who were with them gathered together, saying, “The Lord is risen indeed, and has appeared to Simon!” And they told about the things that had happened on the road, and how He was known to them in the breaking of bread. (Luke 24:28-35, Bright Tuesday)

Fr John’s Reflection

On Bright Tuesday, the Church chooses to move away from the Gospel of St. John for one day only to give us the story of the journey on the road to Emmaus. During this journey, the risen Jesus appears on that road and walks with His disciples. They don’t recognize Him. He asks, “What’s been going on?” And they marveled, asking Him, are you the only one who does not know about the events of the past days? And they tell Him the story of the Crucifixion and how they all had hoped that Jesus was the One who would deliver them from darkness and death. Then it ended with the “defeat” of the Cross. Jesus begins to explain the Scriptures to them and how the Christ must suffer and die for the people. The end of the story is quoted above. He tells them He would continue on His journey and they beg Him to stay. Then He breaks the bread with them, they recognize Him and He vanishes from sight.

The Church has always seen this story as revealing the place of the Eucharist in our lives. It was only through “the breaking of bread” that their eyes were opened. So it is for a believer and the Eucharist. Only by setting aside our preconceived notions about God and the Christ can we begin to truly “see” Him. The miracle of His Death and Resurrection are given to us every time we celebrate the liturgy. On Holy Saturday, in place of the Cherubic Hymn, we sing “Let all mortal flesh keep silent.” Why? Because “the King of Kings and the Lord of Lords comes to offer Himself as food for the faithful.” It is not an accident that the basic action of the gathering of Christian believers is the Eucharist. What is food? We can look at it two ways: food is what we gather, purchase, acquire, etc., in order to feed ourselves so we don’t starve and die. The Food of Immortality is seen the second way: food is placed into its proper perspective. It is given to us by God so that we might have communion with Him. We might become one with Him. When we eat the first way, we die. When we eat the second way, we live for eternity. When we eat the first way, we are no better or worse than before the meal. Just alive enough to see another day (hopefully). When we eat the second way, not only are we joined to Him in the most intimate way possible (He enters into us), but our eyes are opened to all the things He wants us to see, beginning with Himself.

May we always hunger for the Food which opens our eyes and gives us life eternal! Christ is Risen!