Daily Reflection April 24th, 2020
by Fr Stephen
APRIL 24 BRIGHT FRIDAY
CHRIST IS RISEN! INDEED HE IS RISEN!
In exhorting Christians to attend church for prayer, St. John Chrysostom says: “If someone delivers to subjugated citizens a royal decree, the citizens do not question the life of the messenger, as to whether he is rich or poor or righteous or sinful, but all listen attentively to that which he is reading. If someone has not heard, he asks one who has heard. When you have such great awe of earthly rulers, how much more should you heed us (priests) here, where the Creator of the heavenly powers speaks through us sinners?” Indeed, what is Holy Scripture but a document [Grammata, Letter] of the Heavenly King? Why is it that this unique and saving document does not interest us every day and every hour, when the least authority in the country and his trivial orders do interest us? St. Anthony said: “Let everything you do have its justification in Holy Scripture.” But how can you have justification in Holy Scripture if you are not familiar with Holy Scripture? (St. Nikolai Velimirovich, Prologue from Ochrid)
Now the Passover of the Jews was at hand, and Jesus went up to Jerusalem. And He found in the temple those who sold oxen and sheep and doves, and the money changers doing business. When He had made a whip of cords, He drove them all out of the temple, with the sheep and the oxen, and poured out the changers’ money and overturned the tables. And He said to those who sold doves, “Take these things away! Do not make My Father’s house a house of merchandise!” Then His disciples remembered that it was written, “Zeal for Your house has eaten Me up.”
So the Jews answered and said to Him, “What sign do You show to us, since You do these things?” Jesus answered and said to them, “Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up.” Then the Jews said, “It has taken forty-six years to build this temple, and will You raise it up in three days?” But He was speaking of the temple of His body. (John 2:13-22)
Therefore, when He had risen from the dead, His disciples remembered that He had said this to them; and they believed the Scripture and the word which Jesus had said.
Fr John’s Reflection
Here we are, just five days after Pascha, and just two chapters into St. John’s gospel, and we are taken to the famous story of Jesus clearing the temple. There are a few things that have always captured my attention about this story. I always wondered how Jesus, for lack of better words, “got away with it.” How could this unassuming Galilean walk into the temple and begin chasing people out with a whip? Why was there no challenge at all — from anyone? What kind of authority did His presence have to command obedience? I need to spend my spiritual time searching for the authority of that Presence instead of my usual willful obstinance in refusing to accept God’s will instead of my own! Can I find His authority in the gentle presence He offers to all of us? Can I find it in the Church? Neither did anyone question Him when He referred to “My Father’s house.” Who am I to question Him about anything?
But, as usual, He was asked for a “sign,” since He was doing those things. While accepting His actions, they nonetheless asked for the sign to “prove” that He could do those things. The sign He offered to them was the “destruction of this temple,” which He would then raise up in three days. Those questioning Him then didn’t understand His reference. The disciples remembered this event after He was raised. We know today to what He was referring. Or do we? If we are the Temple of the Holy Spirit, isn’t the “sign” for us today that we are in midst of the celebration of His Resurrection after the “clearing of our temple by Him” in the rigors of Lent? After the efforts of the fast, have we simply gone back to what we were before? Have we allowed Christ to leave and then just put the money changing tables of our lives back up? “Oh, good! He’s gone. We can go back to normal.” One of the eternal truths about the Faith is that we can never be the same after we truly accept Christ. Fr. Alexander Schmemann constantly referred to the Faith as making us “radically different” from those without the Faith. Whether “radically different” is good or bad is entirely dependent upon how we receive the One who desires to clear out the temple of our souls. But radical it shall be! Christ is Risen!
November 29, 2023
November 29, 2023
November 29, 2023