Daily Reflection April 28th, 2020

Daily Reflection April 28th, 2020



The mystery of our salvation is concluded with the appearance of God among men in a human body. St. Meliton of Sardis writes: “The works of Christ following His baptism manifested and proved to the world that His divinity was hidden in His body. Being God, He was also perfect man. He revealed to us His two natures: His divinity, by His miracles performed throughout the three years following His baptism; and His humanity, throughout those years when the weakness of the flesh hid the signs of His divinity, even though He was truly the Pre-eternal God.” The manner of the union of divinity with humanity is difficult to comprehend, but the event of the appearance of God as a man among men is perfectly comprehensible from the viewpoint of the love of God for man. Even the creation of the world, as an event, is not more comprehensible–one can even say it is less comprehensible–than the event above all events: the Incarnation of God.
(St. Nikolai Velimirovich, Prologue from Ochrid)

Fr John’s Reflection

For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life. For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved.

He who believes in Him is not condemned; but he who does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God. And this is the condemnation, that the light has come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil. For everyone practicing evil hates the light and does not come to the light, lest his deeds should be exposed. But he who does the truth comes to the light, that his deeds may be clearly seen, that they have been done in God.”

(John 3:16-21)

Forgive me, but today’s reading from the Gospel of St. John always brings to mind a large, rainbow-color haired guy holding up a sign at football stadiums saying “JOHN 3:16.” It is a rather basic, even elementary, way of “evangelizing.” I assume he (they) always expected everyone to go running to their Bible (like most people have one) and look up John 3:16. But I digress…

Today’s reading highlights two very important points, but the first is obscured. When John says that God gave His Son that those who believe in Him should not perish, John is telling the truth. Anyone who believes in the only-begotten Son of God will not perish, but have eternal life. But the obscurity lies in what “belief in the only-begotten Son” means. Lately, I’ve been thinking about and discussing “accepting Jesus Christ as Savior” because it is a basic question that many catechumens face (and we discuss). Fundamental Christians would proclaim that it is a moment — that a conscious moment of the acceptance of Jesus Christ as Savior is not only necessary, but the only thing necessary. Once you do that, you’re good. Orthodox would see it as a process of theosis, growing more and more “divine” in reflection of Him. Once we recognize that Jesus Christ is the incarnate Son of God, we begin through baptism, chrismation, continual repentance and the life of the Church, the journey of becoming like Him. It is much like the image of the ladder to heaven. We are on different steps and sometimes even fall off before beginning the climb again. It is never “one and done.”

The second point is that “the light has come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light.” How frightening and how awful! But we can see in the fallenness of the world, even sometimes in the fallenness of human beings in the Church, how darkness can fill a person. Little by little, when we don’t fight the darkness, light is inched out of our lives. And the Light is a Person. One of the most efficient (and sneaky) ways the demons bring more and more darkness into our lives is to allow us to consider and accept that it is “one and done.” We can sometimes be so smug in our “Orthodoxy.” All the faith in the world, all the faith in Jesus Christ, is not faith at all unless it shines forth in the works that we do among our fellow human beings. St. James in his epistle reminds us that even the demons believe in God. Talk is cheap. We don’t have to preach. We don’t have to teach. We don’t have to perform miracles. We simply have to truly know God and love Him, and the works themselves will blossom forth and shine with His presence. I was reminded today (as if I needed it!) of the humbling words of St. Seraphim of Sarov: “When you acquire the Spirit of peace, a thousand souls around you will be saved.” Indeed! Christ is Risen!