Daily Reflection for July 16, 2020
DAILY REFLECTION • JULY 16 • Hieromartyr Athenogenes, Bishop of Heracleopolis and his ten disciples
The Ecumenical Councils are the greatest battles of Orthodoxy with heretics. Under today’s date (Note: The Church celebrates the memory of the Fathers of the First Six Ecumenical Councils on the Sunday that falls between July 13-19), the Church jointly commemorates the first Six Ecumenical Councils:
The First Ecumenical Council in Nicea, 325 A.D. with 318 holy fathers participating. This Council is commemorated separately on May 29 and on the Seventh Sunday after Easter. This Council refuted the heresy of Arius against the Son of God.
The Second Ecumenical Council in Constantinople, 381 A.D. with 150 holy fathers attending. This Council is commemorated separately on May 22. This Council refuted the heresy of Macedonius against God, the Holy Spirit.
The Third Ecumenical Council in Ephesus, 431 A.D. with 200 holy fathers participating. This Council is commemorated separately on September 9. This Council refuted the heresy of Nestorius against the Mother of God.
The Fourth Ecumenical Council in Chalcedon, 451 A.D. with 630 holy fathers participating. This Council is commemorated separately on July 16. This Council refuted the Monophysite heresy.
The Fifth Ecumenical Council in Constantinople, 553 A.D. with 160 holy fathers participating. This Council is commemorated separately on July 25. This Council refuted the heresy of Origen.
The Sixth Ecumenical Council in Constantinople, 691 A.D. with 170 holy fathers participating. This Council is commemorated separately on January 23. This Council refuted the Monothelite heresy.
The Seventh Ecumenical Council which was convened in 878 A.D. with 367 holy fathers participating. This Council is not commemorated at this time but is commemorated separately on October 11. This Council refuted the heresy of Iconoclasm.
At these Councils, through the operation of the Holy Spirit, all these heresies were condemned and the Faith of Orthodoxy was defined and confirmed for all time. (St. Nikolai Velimirovich, Prologue from Ochrid)
Fr. John’s Reflection
Thus says the Lord: “Go and get yourself a linen sash and put it around your waist, but let it not pass through the water.” So I got the sash according to the word of the Lord, and put it around my waist.
Again the word of the Lord came to me, saying, “Take the sash from around your waist. Arise and go to the Euphrates, and hide it there in a hole in the rock.” So I went and hid it by the Euphrates as the Lord commanded me. Again it came to pass that after many days the Lord also said to me, “Arise and go to the Euphrates, and take from there the sash I commanded you to hide there.” Then I went to the Euphrates River and dug, and took the sash from the place where I buried it. Behold, it was rotted and good for nothing.
Then the word of the Lord came to me, saying, “Thus says the Lord: ‘In this manner I will destroy the insolence of Judah and that of Jerusalem. The great insolence of those who are unwilling to obey My words, and who walk after foreign gods to serve and worship them, they shall be like this sash—good for nothing. For as a sash clings to the waist of a man, so I caused the house of Israel and the whole house of Judah to cling to Me, so as to become a notable people to Me, as a boast and a glory; but they would not listen to Me.” (Jeremiah 13:1-11)
This might be called one of the “object prophecies” of the Lord through the Prophet Jeremiah. The object was the lesson; it needed no words. A linen sash was a loincloth, worn as underwear by males. One might consider it meaningful that this object was used by the Lord to teach a lesson. Any cloth would have been subject to the same rotting, but the People of God had become an abomination. The particular piece of clothing rotting emphasizes that no one would put it on again. Jeremiah was instructed to hide it in a hole in the rock at the Euphrates. The Lord almost assuredly transported Jeremiah to this spot. Then again, after “many days,” the Lord brought him back to the Euphrates to retrieve the sash. Of course, it was rotten and “good for nothing.” That sash was a prophecy about Judah and Jerusalem, who in their disobedience and idolatry had become rotten and good for nothing. Like a sash, the People of God were called to cling to the Lord in health and cleanliness. But they would not listen. And so they will be buried and destroyed like a cloth buried in a hole by the river.
Of course, we can’t help but see in this imagery lessons for ourselves. We, as the Church, are called to be the People of God. We are baptized into the death and resurrection of Christ, sealed with the Holy Spirit and blessed to “cling to God.” But we are tempted to all sorts of rot. We live with and embrace our passions. We worship all sorts of idols instead of the Lord (often starting by worshiping ourselves). Too often we try to “box” the Lord into a space in our lives, compartmentalizing Him to a space no larger or more powerful in our lives than other “spaces.” Work, family, house, socializing, building nest eggs, etc., all are boxed up into the appropriate time and space we have allotted as we prioritize our schedules. The Lord is just another spot in our ever so busy schedules. When He does not reign as Lord Almighty, He does not reign at all. That is idolatry, and proof that “they would not listen to Me.” The rotted out, good for nothing cloth is then discarded. What a vivid prophecy. But also — what a scary prophecy.
November 29, 2023
November 29, 2023
November 29, 2023