Daily Reflection April 27th, 2020

Daily Reflection April 27th, 2020

APRIL 27 Hieromartyr Simeon, kinsman of the Lord


The true Faith must be persecuted in this world. The Savior Himself said this clearly and openly to His apostles. St. Apollinarius of Hierapolis, in writing against the Montanist heretics, says: “Let them tell us before God: who, out of all their prophets, beginning with Montanus and his wives, was persecuted by the Jews and killed by the ungodly? No one. Who from among them was taken away for the name of Christ and was crucified on the cross? Again, no one. Have any of the women ever been flogged or stoned in the Jewish synagogues? Never and nowhere.” The Orthodox saint is saying that the true Faith, on the other hand, must be persecuted in this world. Heresies are generally closer to the worldly and demonic spirit, and thus the world and the demons do not persecute their own. To be constantly persecuted–with brief intervals in between–is a characteristic of the Faith and the Orthodox Church. This persecution has existed, either from without or within–externally from unbelievers and internally from heretics–throughout all of history. (St. Nikolai Velimirovich, Prologue from Ochrid)

You will not escape sin by a multitude of words, but you of discreet lips will be forbearing. (Proverbs 10:20)

Then He replied, “Go out tomorrow and stand on the mountain before the Lord; and behold, the Lord will pass by, and before the Lord, a great and powerful wind will be rending the mountains and shattering the rocks; but the Lord will not be in the wind. After the wind, an earthquake, but the Lord will not be in the earthquake. After the earthquake, there will be a fire, but the Lord will not be in the fire. After the fire, there will be a sound of a gentle breeze, and the Lord will be there.” (3 Kings 19:11-12)

Fr John’s Reflection

In these past few weeks of quarantine, with very little contact with people personally and only a little more “virtually,” I have been thinking more and more about silence. Early on, when my schedule was drastically cut down and travels became less and less frequent, my wife and I did a lot of “fill the time.” We caught up on some shows we had been meaning to catch up on, I started a book I had been meaning to read for a while, we surfed through Netflix and Prime to see if there were more things worth watching. I did some fruitful things too — we started a little phone outreach to check up on people. I started writing this daily reflection. For a while, I was busy with confessions (both in person and virtually) despite the restrictions. But eventually, all became either repetitive, or boring, and we dropped some of those things for “nothing.” TV off, music quiet, maybe read, but often just sit and be still.

It was then I got acquainted again with silence and its deeper cousin, stillness. When I walk in the morning with my wife, there are long pauses when we have nothing much to say. It is then that I am struck by how relatively silent our world has become. Morning traffic is minimal, we don’t use earbuds and music, etc., like I see many people do. I am not at the gym, which is blasting with incessant noise all the time. When foot traffic is light, it is completely silent except for the padding of our feet and maybe the songs of the birds, which is not “noise”. And it is then that I am reminded of one of my favorite passages in Scripture — the discovery by Elijah of the language of God. The NKJV version above says “gentle breeze,” but other translations say “still, small voice or whisper.” I am struck by the gift of God in the midst of this pandemic: silence breaking through in a world usually engulfed in noise. And stillness, which is a deeper effort to open up oneself to God, is manifest in the way the world itself has become still and is regenerating itself in a matter of weeks. I need to make a better effort at the regeneration that stillness brings from God. A “multitude of words” does not help us avoid sin, but discreet lips (perhaps even better, silent lips) will be forbearing. So much forbearance is needed in this world, and so little is shared. I have no doubt that when this is all over, the world will once again be filled with the cacophony of useless noise, which we all will think is so important. It is then that I will long for these days of silence. May we make good use of them before they disappear again. Christ is Risen!