Daily Reflection April 25th, 2020
by Fr Stephen
APRIL 25 BRIGHT SATURDAY
CHRIST IS RISEN! INDEED HE IS RISEN!
The devil quickly finds work for idle hands, but an angel quickly finds work for diligent ones. In this world of constant movement and constant change, a man must always be busy, whether he wants to or not, either with good works or with evil ones. The idle man is actually not lazy. He is a diligent worker for the devil. An idle body and an idle soul are the most suitable field for the devil’s plowing and sowing. St. Anthony the Great says: “The body needs to be subdued and immersed in prolonged labors.” St. Ephraim the Syrian teaches: “Teach yourself to work, so that you will not have to learn to beg.” All of the other Holy Fathers, without exception, speak of the necessity of work for the salvation of the soul of man. The apostles and all the saints give us an example of continuous and concentrated spiritual and physical labor. That the idle man, by his idleness, does not extend his life on earth but shortens it, is clearly shown by the longevity of many saints, the greatest laborers among the laborers in the world. (St. Nikolai Velimirovich, Prologue from Ochrid)
Then there arose a dispute between some of John’s disciples and the Jews about purification. And they came to John and said to him, “Rabbi, He who was with you beyond the Jordan, to whom you have testified – behold, He is baptizing, and all are coming to Him!”
John answered and said, “A man can receive nothing unless it has been given to him from heaven. You yourselves bear me witness, that I said, ‘I am not the Christ,’ but, ‘I have been sent before Him.’ He who has the bride is the bridegroom; but the friend of the bridegroom, who stands and hears him, rejoices greatly because of the bridegroom’s voice. Therefore this joy of mine is fulfilled.)
“He must increase, but I must decrease.” (John 3:25-30)
Fr John’s Reflection
The passage given to us today from the Gospel of St. John is a continuation of the ministry of our Lord. After the cleansing of the temple, He went into the countryside of Judea, baptizing. John’s disciples get concerned, even jealous. John assures them about just who Jesus actually is. And he refers to himself as the Friend of the Bridegroom. What a glorious title! The friend stands in complete joy as he watches the bridegroom receive his bride. John was the Forerunner, preparing the world for the coming of the Messiah. Anticipation is over. Waiting is over. The Bridegroom has finally come to take His Bride. So the joy of John is fulfilled. In the Resurrection, we have become His Bride. We enter into mystical union with our Beloved in the life of the Church. How blessed are we to be able to recognize the Bridegroom, and even more blessed are we to be His Bride!
But John finishes with a simple sentence that defines what Christian life is, actually. “He must increase, but I must decrease.” How simple yet awful that sentence is, because it is absolute truth. Anyone trying to follow Christ has to come to grips with the reality that it is a lifetime of trying to “decrease” — emptying ourselves of all selfish desires and ideas. Then a lifetime of trying to have Him “increase” — filling us with Himself through prayer, fasting, almsgiving, repentance, being still, and daily vigilance over our souls. Fighting passions and temptations, living the life of the Church, being fortified with the Eucharist all is Him “increasing” in us. How simple, yet difficult. May we find in ourselves an ever-increasing Christ and an ever-decreasing Me. Christ is Risen!
November 29, 2023
November 29, 2023
November 29, 2023