Daily Reflection for October 3, 2020

DAILY REFLECTION  •  OCTOBER 3  •  Hieromartyr Dionysius the Aeropagite


A vision of St. Andrew: Walking one day along the streets of Constantinople, St. Andrew saw a large, splendid procession. A rich man had just died, and his funeral procession was majestic. However, when Andrew looked more closely, he saw many black figures capering around the corpse with joy: some laughing like prostitutes, others barking like dogs, others grunting like swine, and others pouring a foul liquid over the body of the deceased. They all mocked the processional chanters, saying: “You are chanting over a dog!” Astonished, Andrew wondered what this man had done in his life. Glancing around, he saw a handsome youth standing by a wall and weeping. “For the sake of the God of heaven and earth, tell me the reason for your weeping!” he said, and the youth replied that he was the guardian angel of the deceased. The dead man had grievously offended God by his sins, and had rejected the counsels of his angel. He had completely given himself over to the black devils. The angel said that that man had been a great and unrepentant sinner: he had been a liar, a despiser of men, a miser, a perjurer and a libertine, who had defiled three hundred souls by his debauchery. He had been honored by the emperor and respected by men, but all in vain. The great funeral retinue was also in vain. Death had caught up with the rich man in his unrepentant state, and the harvest had come to him suddenly.
(St. Nikolai Velimirovich, Prologue from Ochrid)

Fr. John’s Reflection

By the word of the Lord the heavens were established, and all the host of them by the breath of His mouth, who gathers the waters of the sea together as in a wineskin, who put the abysses in storehouses. Let all the earth fear the Lord, and let all the world’s inhabitants be shaken by Him; for He spoke and they were made; He commanded and they were created.
            The Lord scatters abroad the counsels of the nations, and He sets aside the reasoning of peoples; and He rejects the counsels of rulers. The counsel of the Lord abides forever, the thoughts of His heart from generation to generation. Blessed is the nation whose God is the Lord, the people He chose as an inheritance for Himself. The Lord looked attentively from heaven; He saw all the sons of men. From His prepared dwelling-place, He looked upon all who dwell on the earth, He who alone fashioned their hearts, He who understands all their works. A king is not saved by his large army, and a giant shall not be saved by his immense strength; a horse is a false hope for salvation, and it shall not be saved by its enormous power.
(Psalm 32:6-17)

It would be good for every single human being, organization and government to read Psalm 32/33. The whole psalm is a revelation of the Holy Trinity as the creator of the world. The “Lord” is God the Father, the “word” is the Son, and the “breath of His mouth” is the Holy Spirit. The passage above has two parts: the first “paragraph” is a glorification of God’s power in creation. Everything is created by Him (Them), and all creation should stand in awe and fear, realizing that nothing and no one exists without Him willing the existence. The “fear” is not being scared of an arbitrary Sadist or that He will destroy us or will us out of existence, but the fear of the created standing in awareness and the presence of the Creator, much like Peter, James and John falling down in fear and covering their eyes at the Transfiguration, or Moses standing at the Burning Bush.

The second “paragraph,” however, is an ode to the futility of human power. Contrasted with the majesty and power of the Lord creating the cosmos, the “counsels of the nations” and the “counsels of the rulers” are rejected. They are ultimately puny and powerless. But “blessed is the nation whose God is the Lord.” What important words for all to hear at all times, but maybe they are particularly important in these times. We put our hope in government for everything. Why aren’t they curing COVID? Why isn’t there money coming my way? Is our military strong enough to withstand our enemies? We spend too much on the military. This candidate is good; that candidate is bad. The President stinks. The President is wonderful. People should be in the streets protesting, even rioting. People should be supporting those in charge.  It’s all futile. Governments come and governments go. “A king is not saved by his large army,” and a “giant is not saved by his immense strength.” There is great division and suffering in our nation today. One might argue that we, as a nation, have lost our way because we have forgotten the Lord, leading to that division and suffering. There is only one source of salvation and one true power: the Creator of the world. All other authority withers in the presence of the one true Authority. Would that we could say our nation is blessed because our “God is the Lord.” Alas.