Daily Reflection for July 10, 2020
DAILY REFLECTION • JULY 10
Venerable Anthony of the Kiev Caves, Founder of Monasticism is Russia
The thought of death is like a downpour of cold rain, which extinguishes the fire of passions. The Psalmist David says: “For when he dies he shall carry nothing away: his glory shall not descend after him” (Psalms 49:17). Who would not be ashamed when he sometimes sees, even among the unbelievers, a better comprehension of our earthly nothingness than with some Christians? When Caliph Saladin died, a crier [Telal] went before his coffin with a spear in his hand and, on the spear one of the emperor’s shirts, and he cried out: “O great Saladin who conquered all of Asia and because of that caused many nations to tremble before him and who conquered emperors: behold of all his glory and of all his subjects he takes nothing with him except this miserable shirt.” (St. Nikolai Velimirovich, Prologue from Ochrid)
Fr. John’s Reflection
“O Lord, who has believed our report, and to whom was the arm of the Lord revealed? We proclaimed His presence as a Child, as a Root in a thirsty land. He had no form or glory, and we saw Him; and He had no form or beauty. But in comparison to all men, His form was lacking in honor. He was a man in suffering and knew how to bear sickness. His face was turned away, and He was dishonored and not esteemed. He bears our sins and suffers for us, yet we considered Him to be in pain, suffering, and ill-treatment. But He was wounded because of our lawlessness, and became sick because of our sins. The chastisement of our peace was upon Him, and by His bruise we are healed. All we like sheep have gone astray. Man has gone astray in his way, and the Lord delivered Him over for our sins.
Although He was ill-treated, He opened not His mouth. He was led as a sheep to the slaughter, and as a lamb is silent before his shearers, so He opens not His mouth. In His humiliation His judgment was taken away, and who will declare His generation? For His life is taken from the earth, and because of the lawlessness of My people He was led to death. I will appoint evil men for His burial and rich men for His death, because He committed no lawlessness, nor was deceit found in His mouth. The Lord wishes to cleanse Him of His wound, and if You give an offering for sin, Your soul shall see a long-lived seed. The Lord wishes to take away the pain of His soul, to show Him light, to form Him with understanding, and to pronounce righteous the Righteous One who serves many well; and He shall bear their sins. Therefore He shall inherit many, and will divide the spoil with the strong, because His soul was delivered over to death. He was considered among the lawless, and He bore the sins of many, and was delivered over because of their sins.” (Isaiah 53:1-12)
If you did not read the passage above carefully, please go back and do it. This is the very famous “Suffering Servant” word icon of Jesus Christ. Every single word by the Prophet was fulfilled by our Savior. We read yesterday that Jerusalem was to “put on the strength of your arm.” Isaiah begins chapter 53 with the same Arm. Every word describes in detail the God-Man Jesus Christ and His Passion about 700 years before His birth. One can imagine the humility in our Lord as He went to that passion: no form or glory, no form or beauty, lacking in honor, suffering and bearing it all for us, dishonored by His own creation (killed by His own creation!), bearing our sin, wounded by our transgressions, sick because of our sins, but by His bruise we are healed. Humanly speaking, He was broken, bloody and defeated. He was delivered over for our sins. What a self-emptying Gift!
The words that we pray at each and every Proskomedia service are then written: “Although He was ill-treated, He opened not His mouth. He was led as a sheep to the slaughter, and as a lamb is silent before his shearers, so He opens not His mouth. In His humiliation His judgment was taken away, and who will declare His generation?” These words are prayed by the priest as he cuts the Lamb that will be used for the Eucharist at liturgy out of the bread — the words of sacrifice. St. Gregory the Theologian famously said about our Lord that, “what is not assumed is not saved.” The whole of the 53rd chapter of Isaiah illuminates the voluntary sacrifice of our Lord. He bore the sins of many and because He did, the sins of many (i.e. everyone) are remitted. Jesus was born of Mary to take on human flesh (assuming everything that we are minus sin), He was obedient to His Father unto death, He was “led as a sheep to the slaughter” reflecting His innocence, He committed no lawlessness, nor was deceit found in His mouth. The Sacrifice is perfect — indeed, the only Perfect Sacrifice — and in the perfection, we have been given salvation, because He assumed everything. How powerful an image seen by the Prophet! How can we not be moved to walk with Him? If you read it carefully, that’s good. Do it again.
November 29, 2023
November 29, 2023
November 29, 2023