Daily Reflection for August 12, 2020

DAILY REFLECTION  •  AUGUST 12  •  Martyrs Anicletus and Photius of Nicomedia


Learn to respect and to love the lowly and simple people. Such as these are the most on earth: such as these are the most in the Kingdom of Heaven. In them, there is no pride, i.e., the basic madness from which the souls of the rich and the powerful of this world suffer. They carry out their duty in this world perfectly and yet it appears to them amusing when someone praises them for it, while the self-seeking men of this world seek praise for all their work and often, it is imperfectly completed. St. Alexander was an eminent philosopher and he left everything, hid himself from exalted society, the praise of the world and mingled with the lowliest and the simplest of men, as a charcoal-burner among charcoal-burners. Instead of former praises and honors, he endured with rejoicing that children ran after him and laughed at him because of his sootiness and raggedness. However, Alexander was not the only one who liked to live with the lowly and simple. Many kings and princes, learning of the sweetness of Christ’s Faith, removed the crowns from their heads and fled from aristocratic vanity to be among the simple people. Did not He alone, the King of Kings, the Lord our Christ appear among shepherds and fishermen? St. Zeno counsels: “Do not choose a glorious place for living and do not associate with a man of a prominent name.” (St. Nikolai Velimirovich, Prologue from Ochrid)

Fr. John’s Reflection

Now this I say, brethren, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God; nor does corruption inherit incorruption. Behold, I tell you a mystery: We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed — in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed. For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality.
            So when this corruptible has put on incorruption, and this mortal has put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written: “Death is swallowed up in victory.” (Isaiah 25:8)

            “O Death, where is your sting? O Hades, where is your victory” (Hosea 13:14)

The sting of death is sin, and the strength of sin is the law. But thanks be to God, who gives us victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.
            Therefore, my beloved brethren, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that your labor is not in vain in the Lord.
(1 Corinthians 15:50-58)

St. Paul concludes his discourse on resurrection in the fifteenth chapter of 1 Corinthians with three fundamental teachings about it:

  1. Flesh and blood, or corruptible and incorruptible, cannot inherit the kingdom of God. There will be a change, in the twinkling of an eye. I always hear Handel’s Messiah when I read these words! The last trumpet shall sound as the announcement of the Second Coming of Christ and the dead, lying in corruption in their graves, will be raised to incorruption. We will rise as “spiritual beings,” transfigured in ways already hinted at by the Lord in His transfigured, then resurrected, Body.
  2. When that trumpet sounds, all of death is swallowed up in final victory. We know that the Lord is risen from the dead and that death no longer has dominion over men, but we still feel the “sting of death” in our sin and only the final victory of Christ will take that away. All the pain and suffering of this world will be washed away.
  3. Our labor is not in vain in the Lord. We can become so weary in struggle in this world. We pray, we fast, we wrestle with our passions and sins, we battle every single day if not every single moment (or should). But St. Paul exhorts us to take comfort in being steadfast, immovable, and abounding in the work of the Lord, because the reward awaits us. Living the Christian life and the life of the Church is difficult, but never in vain.

St. Paul has given us the great gift of the fifteenth chapter of his first letter to the Corinthians. Human beings have a natural curiosity about life after death, resurrection, and the Kingdom of Heaven. The Apostle has given us a glimpse at an answer about those questions. The task set before each of us is to hope in the resurrection, for that hope is the foundation of the structure of faith, and the life built on that structure will never die. In the twinkling of an eye, it will be changed.