Daily Reflection for June 18, 2020

Martyrs Leontius, Hypatius and Theodulus, at Tripoli in Syria

A scientist examines natural phenomenon with great attention and we, with greater attention, should examine the phenomena and the actions of the grace of God. Behold, what one of the great spiritual fathers’ witnesses about the act of Holy Communion. Father John of Kronstadt writes: “I am amazed at the greatness and the life-giving power of divine Communion. An elderly woman, who was spitting blood and was so completely exhausted from not being able to eat anything, began to recover the day that she received Communion from me. A young girl close to death began to recover, eat, drink and speak after Communion whereas, before that, she was unconscious, in convulsions and did not eat or drink anything.” O, if every priest, with the attention of a scientist and with the love of a prayerful man, did observe and follow the actions of the Grace of Holy Communion similar to Father John! (St. Nikolai Velimirovich, Prologue from Ochrid)

Fr. John’s Reflection

For if when we were enemies we were reconciled to God through the death of His Son, much more, having been reconciled, we shall be saved by His life. And not only that, but we also rejoice in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received the reconciliation.
            Therefore, just as through one man sin entered the world, and death through sin, and thus death spread to all men, because all sinned: For until the law sin was in the world, but sin is not imputed when there is no law. Nevertheless death reigned from Adam to Moses, even over those who had not sinned according to the likeness of the transgression of Adam, who is a type of Him who was to come.
           But the free gift is not like the offense. For if by the one man’s offense many died, much more the grace of God and the gift by the grace of the one Man, Jesus Christ, abounded to many. And the gift is not like that which came through the one who sinned. For the judgment which came from one offense resulted in condemnation, but the free gift which came from many offenses resulted in justification.
(Romans 5:10-16)

St. Paul develops the whole theology of faith, grace and justification in his letter to the Romans. A “reflection” is just that — a small reflection on a topic of interest — so we will not try to delve deeply into the theology of St. Paul on this very broad and deep topic. But we can look at some simple thoughts that he lays out in the lectionary selection for today. First, we are reconciled to God through the death of His Son, but more than that, we are saved by His life. This is not “atonement,” but the realization that our salvation is effected by the Incarnation of the Son of God. Taking upon Himself everything that we are, including sin and death, we are brought back to the Father after falling away from Him through sin.

Second, he contrasts the first and the second “Adam.” The first Adam (who was a “type” of the second Adam, being the father of humanity), brought sin into the world, and through that sin brought death into the world. That death reigned from the dawn of time until the second Adam, who is Christ. But Paul teaches clearly that the free gift given in Christ is not like the offense of Adam. The first man gave us death, but the second Man gave us life. Both are free gifts. He states that Adam’s offense results in condemnation, but Christ’s gift is “justification.” This justification is not “free” in the sense that nothing is expected, but rather “free” in the sense that everyone who chooses to unite to Christ is given the opportunity, through Grace, to know Him, to reflect Him, and to enter into the joy of His Kingdom. But Holy Tradition teaches us that this is not “accept Jesus Christ and be saved,” but rather, receive the gift of Grace through Jesus Christ and be deified (theosis) — not only reflecting Him, but what He is by nature we can become in the free gift of Grace. Accepting the free gift of Grace means living a deified, transfigured life, full of the acts of God Himself.

It is so much more than “accept Jesus as your Savior.”