Daily Reflection April 9th, 2020

Daily Reflection April 9th, 2020

PROLOGUE FROM OCHRID APRIL 9, Holy Martyr Eupsychius of Caesarea in Cappadocia

“It is said about Pericles that he was a man of almost perfect human beauty except that his head was oblong and resembled a gourd [squash], so that he was subject to ridicule when he appeared bareheaded in public. In order to conceal the defect of this great man of his people, Greek sculptors always portrayed him with a helmet on his head. When some of the pagans knew how to conceal the defects of their friends, how much more, therefore, are we Christians obligated to do the same? Be kindly affectioned one to another with brotherly love; in honor preferring one another (Romans 12:10), commands the Apostle to those who cling to Christ. How can we say that we adhere to the meek and All-pure Christ, if we daily poison the air with tales about the sins and shortcomings of others? To conceal your own virtue and the shortcomings of others–in this is preeminent spiritual wisdom.” (St. Nikolai Velimirovich)

Fr. John’s Reflection:

“So Israel took his journey with all that he had, and came to Beersheba, and offered sacrifices to the God of his father Isaac. Then God spoke to Israel in the visions of the night, and said, “Jacob, Jacob!” And he said, “Here I am.” So He said, “I am God, the God of your father; do not fear to go down to Egypt, for I will make of you a great nation there. I will go down with you to Egypt, and I will also surely bring you up again; and Joseph will put his hand on your eyes.” Then Jacob arose from Beersheba; and the sons of Israel carried their father Jacob, their little ones, and their wives, in the carts which Pharaoh had sent to carry him.

“So they took their livestock and their goods, which they had acquired in the land of Canaan, and went to Egypt, Jacob and all his descendants with him. His sons and his sons’ sons, his daughters and his sons’ daughters, and all his descendants he brought with him to Egypt. (Genesis 46:1-7)

Fr John’s Reflection

Today the Church gives us the continuation of the story of Israel (Jacob) and Joseph, his son. We know the story of Joseph and how he was sold into slavery by his brothers, only to realize that God had sent him to Egypt to preserve life. After his brothers come to Egypt, and he reveals himself to them, he asks them to bring their father (his father) to Egypt to live out their days in safety for the famine which had hit had five years to go. Today, we read about the decision of Israel to obey God and go down to Egypt, despite his own fears and advanced age.

God assures Jacob that he has nothing to fear and confirms that it is His will. Indeed, not only would Jacob see his son thought dead, but a great nation will arise from that journey. So they took everything they had — wives, children, livestock, belongings — and they left the promised land which was dying of drought, and went to Egypt. This journey can be seen in a couple of ways. First, it can be seen as an icon of each of us living in the Church but also having to live “in the world,” where we will work out our salvation while never forgetting our real home. The second is that the Church herself must go out into “Egypt.” Either way, the journey was in fulfillment of God’s plan. Jacob (Israel) and his descendants not only lived but thrived by following God’s command and making the journey to Egypt. So, too, we must follow God’s command and take Him into the world, living as His descendants.

But we also must remember the continuation of the story, which is not given in today’s reading. Jacob indeed sees his son, they do become a great nation. Jacob dies and is buried. Joseph grows old and dies. But it is then that the Egyptians, ruled no longer by a pharaoh that loved and trusted Joseph and his people, decides to enslave them “lest they conquer Egypt.” We must always be conscious of the fact that “Egypt” will always try to enslave each of us who show love, loyalty and dependence to God. Living the Christian life is never easy — temptations and suffering are part of that life. Lent is the effort of breaking that yoke which enslaves. But just as the Lord saves His people through Passover and the Exodus, so we are coming to our own Passover (Pascha), which leads to the promise of the strength and ability to leave “Egypt” to go back once again to the Promised Land. Despite the unique situation we find ourselves in this year, our Exodus is coming. The blood of the Lamb is being prepared. Glory to God!