Daily Reflection for July 2, 2020


The Placing of the Honorable Robe of the Most-holy Theotokos at Blachernae

Every device of which man boasts as an invention of his mind is revealed by Divine Providence and every invented device has its two-fold significance one physical, the other spiritual. Even the clock is a wonderful device but it was not invented merely to tell us the time of day and night but also to remind us of death. This is its spiritual significance. When the small hand completes its rounds of seconds and minutes then the large hand arrives at the ordered hour and the clock strikes. So will the clock of our life strike when the days, months and years of our life are numbered. That is why St. Tikhon of Zadonsk counsels every Christian to reflect:

  1. How the time of our life continually passes;
  2. How it is impossible to bring back time that is past;
  3. How the past and future times are not in our control but only that time in which we are now living;
  4. How the end of our life is unknown;
  5. How we must be prepared for death every day, every hour and every minute;
  6. How because of that we must always be in the state of continual repentance;
  7. How we must be repentant in every hour and spiritually disposed as we would wish to be at the hour of our death.

(St. Nikolai Velimirovich, Prologue from Ochrid)

Fr. John’s Reflection

“All things have been delivered to Me by My Father, and no one knows the Son except the Father. Nor does anyone know the Father except the Son, and the one to whom the Son wills to reveal Him. Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.” (Matthew 11:27-30)

These are some of the most comforting words ever uttered by our Lord. He begins by telling us that we come to the Father through Him, the Son. There is no other way. I’m often asked “what happens if someone doesn’t know about the Son?” “If someone never had the chance to hear the Word of God?” The answer is the same — if a person lives a godly life even without consciously hearing about or knowing about the Lord, he still comes to the Father through the Son. He just doesn’t know that the Son of God is working in his life. We all have known people in our lives who never really think about their relationship with God, and yet live lives that are maybe even better than the way we live. We can only wonder then at the mystical bonds that He forms with such people, and the way a person can be saved is ultimately up to God alone. But woe to those of us who hear the Word of God, but don’t keep it. We have no excuse.

A long time ago, at a summer institute at St. Vladimir’s Seminary, I was tasked to serve daily Matins. The gospel reading for the day was the passage above. My beloved Fr. Paul Lazor was serving as my “altar boy.” When I came out to read the gospel, he came out as the acolyte holding a candle. When I read “Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest,” he sighed and crossed himself. That moment opened my eyes to the burdens that all Christians, but especially priests and bishops, bear. Struggling with the Word of God, much like Jacob wrestling with the Lord in Genesis, is a difficult struggle. Each of us must face our own failures and sins, we strive to repent and sometimes it feels like we just slip backward two or three steps. A priest or a bishop feels the same thing, but then is weighed down with the responsibility for many other souls, not just himself. Here the words of the Lord are a great comfort. When we are exhausted and think there is no way to continue our journey, He asks us to simply come to Him and we will find rest. When we take His yoke upon ourselves, we learn from Him and He carries us when we cannot carry ourselves.

One of the great delusions of the Christian life is that we must find salvation on our own. Not only is that not true, but the truth is the exact opposite. We are never alone. He is always there to give us comfort. And He has given us the Church and each other for mutual support on the road to salvation. When, not if, we get weary with our struggle, we know where to go for rest.