Daily Reflection for August 10, 2020

DAILY REFLECTION  •  AUGUST 10  •  Holy Martyr and Archdeacon Lawrence of Rome


How can we overcome the enmity of our enemies? By renunciation, meekness and prayer. Renunciation in everything, except in faith and purity of life, meekness and prayer, always and always. St. Ambrose writes: “This is the weapon of the righteous ones that in retreating they conquer, just as the skillful archers have the custom that by fleeing, they shoot those stronger than themselves.” A brother was offended by his friend but, nevertheless, desiring peace with him, went to him to be reconciled. However, his friend did not even want to open the door for him and scolding him from within, chased him away from his house. The brother then complained to a spiritual father who said to him: “Going to your friend to be reconciled, all along the way, you condemned him in your thoughts and justified yourself. I counsel you, even though your friend sinned against you, establish the thought in yourself that you have sinned against him and, in this manner, go to him and in your thoughts justify him and condemn yourself.” Thus, the brother proceeded. And what happened? Just as the brother approached the house of his friend, he opened wide the door, ran up to him and embraced the offended brother and made peace with him. (St. Nikolai Velimirovich, Prologue from Ochrid)

Fr. John’s Reflection

Now if Christ is preached that He has been raised from the dead, how do some among you say that there is no resurrection of the dead? But if there is no resurrection of the dead, then Christ is not risen. And if Christ is not risen, then our preaching is empty and your faith is also empty.
            Yes, and we are found false witnesses of God, because we have testified of God that He raised up Christ, whom He did not raise up – if in fact the dead do not rise. For if the dead do not rise, then Christ is not risen. And if Christ is not risen, your faith is futile; you are still in your sins! Then also those who have fallen asleep in Christ have perished. If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men the most pitiable.
(1 Corinthians 15:12-19)

The fifteenth chapter of 1 Corinthians is St. Paul’s great treatise on the resurrection. He lays out the complete understanding of the Church about the Resurrection of Christ and how hope in that resurrection fuels the Christian life. The selection above speaks of the centrality of the resurrection to faith and how we live. Some had been saying there is no resurrection of the dead. Paul’s teaching is simple: if there is no resurrection, then Christ is not raised form the dead. Vice versa is also true: if Christ is risen, then so are we. The apostles testify that Christ is risen, and if that is not true, another sobering fact is also true. The apostles’ preaching is in vain, our faith is empty and futile, and we are still in our sins (i.e., there is no forgiveness nor remission of sins). There is no hope. In other words, why have faith at all if there is no resurrection? We should just “eat, drink and be merry.”

He also makes two frightening charges: if there is no resurrection, then all who have fallen asleep have perished. Death is the end. And secondly, if in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are the most pitiable. How awful to imagine that we live out our lives knowing that we are going to die and that death is the end of all existence, to live without any hope beyond the grave! If the only hope we have is in this life, then pity is indeed what we deserve. We know as baptized, chrismated Christians we are called to live life a certain way, following the commandments of Christ and the teaching of the Church. We strive to live that life not in blind obedience to a set of rules, but because we know that living that way opens all of eternity to us in the embrace of a loving Savior and a Kingdom prepared for us. The temptation of “eat, drink and be merry” is a powerful temptation, however, and we struggle with it all the time. Repentance is the return to the Way from which we wander occasionally. But we also know that in this world, living a Christian life is not only difficult, but oftentimes mocked and ridiculed. It is only hope in the resurrection that allows us to see beyond the present clouds and hold on to the Way, the Truth and the Life. We know that Christ is risen! We should all begin each day remembering the resurrection and the hope that fills our souls in that remembrance.