Daily Reflection April 22nd, 2020

Daily Reflection April 22nd, 2020



At the time of the First Ecumenical Council [Nicaea, 325 A.D.], the quarreling clerics wrote accusations one against the other and presented them to the emperor. Emperor Constantine received all of these accusations and, not opening them, burned them over a lit candle. To the amazement of those around him, the emperor said: “If I saw with my own eyes a bishop, a priest or a monk in a sinful act, I would cover him with my cloak, so that no one would ever see his sin.” Thus, this great Christian emperor embarrassed the scandalmongers and sealed their mouths. Our Faith prohibits us from being spies of the sins of others and stresses that we be merciless judges of our own sins. The sick person in the hospital is concerned with his own particular malady, so that he has neither the will nor the time to question others who are ill or to mock their illness. Are we not all in this world as patients in a hospital? Does not our own common sense emphasize that we look at our own illness and not at another’s? Let no one think that he will be cured of his illness in the other world. It is this world that is the hospital and place for healing; in the next world there is no hospital; there is either a palace or a prison. (St. Nikolai Velimirovich, Prologue from Ochrid)

Men of Israel, hear these words: Jesus of Nazareth, a Man attested by God to you by miracles, wonders, and signs which God did through Him in your midst, as you yourselves also know — Him, being delivered by the determined purpose and foreknowledge of God, you have taken by lawless hands, have crucified, and put to death; whom God raised up, having loosed the pains of death, because it was not possible that He should be held by it….

Therefore let all the house of Israel know assuredly that God has made this Jesus, whom you crucified, both Lord and Christ.” (Acts 2:22-24; 36, Bright Wednesday)

Fr John’s Reflection

Two thoughts today: one each for the quotations above. The words of the holy apostle Peter taken from the second chapter of Acts are taken from the “case” brought against the scribes and pharisees about Jesus. He makes it very clear those to whom he was speaking were responsible for the trial, crucifixion and death of the Lord, despite the “miracles, wonders, and signs” which were done by Him. But he also makes it clear that this Jesus is risen from the dead and is both Lord and Christ. In this aren’t there, at least to some degree, “charges” not only against those leaders, but each of us? In this Paschal (and quarantine) season, it is so easy to be smug and comfortable in our “churchliness,” just like the scribes and pharisees, even lamenting that we were “locked out of our church.” We can be convinced that would never have crucified the Lord. But we must always hold up the bright light of examination and honesty to our minds, hearts and souls to find those little secret spots inside where we “wobble,” even if only a little. Then we try to root them out in the hard work of repentance.

The story of the Emperor Constantine and the very humbling and stark lesson he gives to bishops and priests who are quarrelling with each other in Nicaea hit home for me. We “professional” Church people can be so wrapped up in ourselves and so judgmental of others — especially those above us. May we all repent of that. But St. Nikolai states that the Faith “prohibits us from being spies of the sins of others and stresses that we be merciless judges of our own sins.” It strikes me that in the middle of this difficult situation in which we find ourselves, we not only are tempted to “watch” our neighbor, but to judge, then “snitch” on him. In some places, local governments (i.e. NYC) are literally asking people to do that! Perhaps this quarantine has the added effect of forcing us to behave like Christians fasting: watching our own plates, striving to be moderate in our behavior, and repenting of our sins. Ultimately, isn’t that also at the bottom of all sickness? Sin? Isn’t repentance at the bottom of all healing? If, as St. Nikolai says, there is either a palace or a prison after this life, shouldn’t we be looking at ourselves and preparing to move into the Palace?

Christ is Risen!