Daily Reflection for June 20, 2020

DAILY REFLECTION  •  JUNE 20  •  Hieromartyr Methodius, Bishop of Patar

Saint Cyprian writes about immortality: “Whenever a famous man promises you something, you would believe his promise and would not even dare to think that he who was always faithful to his word would deceive you. But behold, O treacherous one, God Himself speaks to you and you are wavering with doubt. God promised you immortality after your departure from this world and you impudently doubt that promise? This means: you do not recognize God at all: it means that by your unbelieving you insult Christ the Lord and Teacher.” O how powerful is the faith of the saints of God! How obvious and understandable and well explained it is with simple and powerful examples! The unholy do not doubt because they are supposedly more rational but because they are unholy. The holier man is always more rational for in the clear mirror of his heart, he sees the truth. (St. Nikolai Velimirovich, Prologue from Ochrid)

Fr. John’s Reflection

“Judge not, that you be not judged. For with what judgment you judge, you will be judged; and with the measure you use, it will be measured back to you. And why do you look at the speck in your brother’s eye, but do not consider the plank in your own eye? Or how can you say to your brother, ‘Let me remove the speck from your eye’; and look, a plank is in your own eye?
            “Hypocrite! First remove the plank from your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye. Do not give what is holy to the dogs; nor cast your pearls before swine, lest they trample them under their feet, and turn and tear you in pieces. Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, and he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks it will be opened.” (Matthew 7:1-8)

Some Church minutiae: the daily lectionary differs a little from the weekend lectionary. We have finished the Sermon on the Mount in the daily lectionary, but today’s reading brings us back into that sermon. The readings for Saturday and Sunday are chosen separately, although we are still in Romans and Matthew. Today’s reading is again simple and direct. The Lord is speaking about judging others, and spiritual discernment and delusion. I’ve always been amazed at the simple quid pro quo that seems to be at the heart of the Lord’s words. If I judge someone, the same measure of judgment will be used on me. If we want to reverse it to something positive, the measure of mercy that use will be the measure of mercy that I get. We can be so judgmental. We judge looks, personalities, behaviors, colors, any number of things. And we are harsh in those judgments very often, forgetting the words of the Lord. But He also calls us to discernment — seeing ourselves as we really are (true humility) and then we can truly see our brother’s difficulties. But still, spiritual discernment calls of mercy and not judgment. We cannot give what is holy to those who do not repent and are immoral. We must remember always that we are called to not be in those groups ourselves. Minding oneself is business enough.

But when He says, “ask, seek, and knock,” it is interesting because those verbs are “present progressives: ‘be asking, be seeking, be knocking.'” (Orthodox Study Bible) If we truly want the gifts that God wants to give us, we must constantly be asking in prayer. If we truly want to find the destination that God has prepared for us, we must constantly be seeking it by walking the road map of the Church. If we want the door of the Kingdom opened to us, we must constantly be knocking, for the Kingdom of God is taken by violence. (Matthew 11:12) And none of the asking, seeking and knocking includes judging others.