Daily Reflection April 29th, 2020

Daily Reflection April 29th, 2020

APRIL 29 Nine Holy Martyrs at Cyzius


Nothing can be kept secret from the Omniscient God. At every moment, He knows all that is being done in the world, both in the external world and in the internal, spiritual world. Not one intention, not one desire, not one thought can a man conceal from God. How can you hide from God that which you cannot hide from men, from holy men? One day, Tsar Ivan the Terrible came to church to pray to God. In the church, Blessed Basil the Fool-for-Christ stood for prayer. It is true the Tsar was in church physically, but his thoughts were on Sparrow Hill, a short distance from Moscow, upon which he had begun to construct a palace. Throughout the liturgical services the Tsar thought about how he could extend and complete his palace on that hill. After the services the Tsar noticed Basil and asked him: “Where have you been?” Basil replied: “In church.” Basil then immediately asked the Tsar: “And where were you, O Tsar?” “I also was in church,” answered the Tsar. To this the clairvoyant saint replied: “You are not speaking the truth, Ivanushka, for I perceived how, in your thoughts, you were pacing about on Sparrow Hill and building a palace.”
(St. Nikolai Velimirovich, Prologue from Ochrid)

Fr John’s Reflection

The righteous shall also see and fear, and shall laugh at him (the unrighteous), saying: “Behold, this man did not make God his helper, but hoped in the abundance of his riches; and he was made powerful in his vanity.”

But I am like a fruitful olive tree in the house of God; I hope in God’s mercy forever and unto ages of ages. I will give thanks to You forever for what You did, and I will wait on Your name; for it is good in the sight of Your holy ones.

(Psalm 51/52:8-11)

My daily reading schedule brought me to Psalm 51/52 this morning. In this Psalm, David contrasts the righteous and the unrighteous. Specifically, he was writing about Doeg the Edomite “snitching” on David’s whereabouts to Saul, who was looking to kill David. He describes the attributes of the unrighteous by describing Doeg: lawless, wrongdoing tongue, deceitful, loving evil rather than good, wickedness, and words of destruction. Because of all this, God “will destroy you [Doeg, but all the unrighteous] completely.” Then he goes on to praise the righteous using the words above. Written at least 2500 years ago, the words ring just as true today as they did then.

In laughing at the unrighteous, the righteous one reveals much about the temptations that each of us face, even as we try to navigate this difficult world seeking Christ. The unrighteous “did not make God his helper, but hoped in the abundance of his riches.” Isn’t that one of the fundamental temptations of our world, especially in modern day American culture? We depend upon ourselves and the accumulation of riches and power, rather than making God our helper. We do not rely on Him, but rather question Him when trials and tribulations come our way (and isn’t that meaningful in these days?). We become quite powerful in our vanity and in that vanity forget God. But He has humbled us in these days. Money or poverty, power or weakness, position or nothing, faithful or unfaithful — all are potential targets in the crosshairs of the virus. Nothing, not even “social distancing,” can definitively protect us. Only God can.

So we are called to be righteous. Bearing fruit like an olive tree in the house of God. Flowering in the Church with faith and love. Hoping in God’s mercy. Giving thanks forever not for what we have or do, but for what we know God does for us. And we are called to patiently wait on His name, for that is what it means to be holy. As we now patiently wait to be allowed back in the house of God, let us humbly call on His name wherever we are. And may we be truly aware that we are nothing without Him, despite what we “have.” With this righteousness, nothing — not even a virus or death — can destroy us. Christ is Risen!