Daily Reflection for July 17, 2020


Greatmartyr Marina (Margaret) of Antioch in Pisidia


Until Christ becomes all for the soul completely all which generally has a certain permanent and unchanging value, until then, man cannot enter into suffering for Christ. How could St. Marina the fifteen-year-old girl enter into suffering for Christ? For to her, Christ was all completely all! How could Saint Julitta have rejoiced upon seeing her three year old son Cyriacus dead for the Faith of Christ? Again, for her, Christ was all completely all. Behold, how St. Tikhon of Zadonsk speaks in detail of how Christ is all to man in the form of a conversation between Christ and man:

“Do you desire good for yourself?
Every good is in Me.

Do you desire blessedness?
Every blessedness is in Me.

Do you desire beauty?
What is more beautiful than Me?

Do you desire nobleness?
What is more noble than the Son of God and the Holy Virgin?

Do you desire height?
What is higher than the Kingdom of Heaven?

Do you desire riches?
In Me are all riches.

Do you desire wisdom?
I am the Wisdom of God.

Do you desire friendship?
Who is a kinder friend than I Who lay down My life for all?

Do you desire help?
Who can help except Me?

Do you seek joy?
Who will rejoice outside of Me?

Do you seek comfort in misery?
Who will comfort you outside of Me?

Do you seek peace?
I am the peace of the soul.

Do you seek life?
In Me is the source of life.

Do you seek light?
‘I am the Light of the world’ ” (St. John 8:12).
(St. Nikolai Velimirovich, Prologue from Ochrid)

Fr. John’s Reflection

The word of the Lord came to Jeremiah concerning the draught, saying, “Judah mourns and her gates are empty. They are darkened in the land, and the cry of Jerusalem goes up. Her nobles sent their young ones for water, but they found no water in the wells. So they returned with their water containers empty. The works of the land failed, for there was no rain. The farmers were ashamed and covered their heads. The deer also gave birth in the field, but left because there was no grass. The wild donkeys stood in the wooded glens and sniffed the wind. Their eyes failed, for there was no grass because of the wrongdoing of the people.”
            …We know, O Lord, our sins and the wrongdoings of our fathers, for we sinned against You. Stop for Your name’s sake. Do not destroy the throne of Your glory. Remember, and do not break Your covenant with us. Is there anyone among the idols of the Gentiles able to cause rain? Or will the sky yield its fullness at their request? Are You not He? Therefore, since You made all these things, we will wait for You.
(Jeremiah 14:1-6, 20-22)

The notes on this passage say that the drought can be either the lack of rain, or the judgment of the Lord, or both! Both, through the Prophet Jeremiah, offer valuable lessons. If we look at the “drought” in the prophecy as literally the lack of rain, we understand that creation itself is affected and responds to the apostasy and idolatry of Israel. It is completely connected with their sin. No water in wells, no crops, animals giving birth and fleeing to find water elsewhere, donkeys sniffing the wind for some hint of water or food. Nothing — not even grass. The world — creation itself — is dried up because the People of God have turned against Him. But later in the chapter, Jeremiah calls upon God to stop the ravaging of creation because of Israel’s sin. Please, Lord, remember the throne of Your glory and Your covenant with Your creation. On behalf of Israel, Jeremiah confesses that no idol can cause rain. No idol can open the clouds with a simple request. Only the Lord can do that, and noting that, the People of God will wait for the rain to come. To imagine that creation itself suffers from the sin, apostasy and idolatry of Israel is not farfetched at all. Our earth suffers all the time because of our sin and we can note it quite easily.

But the second way to look at this passage is to see in it the spiritual judgment of the Lord. The “draught” is the withholding of blessings in our lives because of the way we live. We like to think that the Lord is always present and working in our lives. That is true. But also true is that we can easily neuter the work of the Lord and His Spirit through our own apostasy, sin and idolatry, calling down His judgment and making our very lives barren deserts. When we turn away from Him in following our own will, or the will of others, or the current trends and fads in culture, leaving behind a trail of betrayal and apostasy from the Lord and His Church, we cannot be surprised that He is very much absent in our lives, leaving us dry and barren. Only by truly repenting, asking the Lord to not forsake His glory given to us in the Church and our lives, can we open the floodgates of heaven, tilt our heads back and drink deeply from the Rains given to us. No idol, carved or simply engravened on our hearts, can open the skies of heaven to burst forth with its fullness. Only the Living God can.