Daily Reflection for June 29, 2020


Holy Glorious and All-Praised Leaders of the Apostles Peter and Paul


Simon Peter and Simon the Magician. The enemies of Christianity frequently like to cite examples of great miracle-workers among the pagans in order to deceive the gullible, to humiliate the Christian Faith and to elevate paganism, sorcery, soothsaying, Satanism and every other charlatanism. There is no doubt that Satan through his servants also attempted to perform miracles but all of the miracles of his servants do not emanate out of love for man, compassion and from faith in God but rather from pride, selfishness, vanity and hatred for mankind. A Christian should learn from the history of the apostles to differentiate divine miracles from satanic deceits and fantasies. Let the Christian only remember the Apostle Peter and Simon the Magician. Let the Christian compare the miracles of Peter with the so-called miracles of Simon. The apostle converted the stony hearts of men into noble hearts, cured the sick, and raised the dead and all of this by prayer and faith in the Living God. However, Simon the Magician amazed men with the devil’s illusions. The Apostle Peter was a friend of God and Simon the Magician was a friend and protege of the perverted Emperor Nero who ended his life by suicide. The miracles of the pagan fakirs belong to the category of illusions and deceits of Simon the Magician. Just as from a distance hot sand resembles water so also the “miracles” of the fakir resemble the life-creating miracles of Christianity.  (St. Nikolai Velimirovich, Prologue from Ochrid)

Fr. John’s Reflection

Are they Hebrews? So am I. Are they Israelites? So am I. Are they the seed of Abraham? So am I. Are they ministers of Christ? – I speak as a fool – I am more: in labors more abundant, in stripes above measure, in prisons more frequently, in deaths often. From the Jews five times I received forty stripes minus one.
            Three times I was beaten with rods; once I was stoned; three times I was shipwrecked; a night and a day I have been in the deep; in journeys often, in perils of waters, in perils of robbers, in perils of my own countrymen, in perils of the Gentiles, in perils in the city, in perils in the wilderness, in perils in the sea, in perils among false brethren; in weariness and toil, in sleeplessness often, in hunger and thirst, in fastings often, in cold and nakedness – besides the other things, what comes upon me daily: my deep concern for all the churches.
            Who is weak, and I am not weak? Who is made to stumble, and I do not burn with indignation? If I must boast, I will boast in the things which concern my infirmity. The God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who is blessed forever, knows that I am not lying. In Damascus the governor, under Aretas the king, was guarding the city of the Damascenes with a garrison, desiring to arrest me; but I was let down in a basket through a window in the wall, and escaped from his hands.
(2 Corinthians 11:22-33)

Humans are very good at feeling sorry for themselves. Objectively speaking, this year has been so very difficult for everyone. We’ve had two measurable earthquakes this year felt in Las Vegas, and they don’t even make the top ten stories of difficulties. They actually just seem “so 2020.” We are facing the threat from a pandemic — the first in our memories (unless you happen to be over 100 years old), the economy is in dire straits, many have lost their jobs or had income drastically reduced, young people have had milestones reduced to caravans past houses, and civil unrest has the whole of society on edge, if not downright fearful. That doesn’t even consider any personal stories we may have in our own lives. We have every reason to be convinced that we should feel sorry for ourselves. At least I have convinced myself of that.

But then we celebrate the memory of the Holy Apostles Peter and Paul, and are given the autobiographical words of Paul to the Corinthians. He lists a catalogue of suffering, all in the name of our Lord. Five times he was whipped, three times beaten with rods, once stoned, three times shipwrecked, a whole day in the sea, in peril at sea, sought by Gentiles and Jews alike for persecution, a victim of terrible lies, totally weary in labor, sleepless, hungry and thirsty, weak from fasting, cold and naked, and actually had to escape arrest by being lowered down a huge wall in a basket. But what does he worry about? His “deep concern for all the churches.”

There is a deep and valuable lesson in his autobiographical sketch — God sustains anyone who trusts in Him. If he ever felt sorry for himself, he quickly moved beyond that to the work that God had given him. As each of us journey through the ups and downs of life, it behooves us to live like St. Paul, and perhaps remind ourselves of his little list of sufferings. Deal with what is in front of us today, fast and pray, live the life of the Church, trust God, do the work that He gives us, and take tomorrow when it comes. May it be so!