Daily Reflection for September 12, 2020

DAILY REFLECTION  •  SEPTEMBER 12  •  Hieromartyr Autonomus, Bishop in Italy


What kind of bond should there be between man and God? An unbreakable and continual bond. “Adhere to God as a son adheres to his father,” counseled St. Anthony. And St. Alonius said: “If a man is not set in his heart that there is no one else in the world but himself and God, he cannot find peace in his soul.” The one God is enough, and more than enough, for all that the heart of man can desire. Without a single protest, Blessed Theodora received a stranger’s child, given to her by slanderers, as if it were her own. Theodora raised this child with love, and reared it in the fear of God. Before her death, this is how she counseled the child: “What is more necessary for man than God and His divine love? He is our refuge, He is our treasure, He is our food and drink, He is our raiment and shelter, He is our health and strength, He is our happiness and joy, He is our hope and our trust. Strive then, my son, to gain Him. If you succeed in gaining the One God, it will be sufficient for you; you will rejoice more in Him than if you had gained the entire world.” In saying this, St. Theodora did not speak from a book or from someone else’s words, but on the basis of her own personal experience. She lived for seven years, driven out and scorned by all men, and during that time she learned by experience that God was everything to her, and that the One God was sufficient for all that the heart of man desires. (St. Nikolai Velimirovich, Prologue from Ochrid)

Fr. John’s Reflection

However, we speak wisdom among those who are mature, yet not the wisdom of this age, nor of the rulers of this age, who are coming to nothing. But we speak the wisdom of God in a mystery, the hidden wisdom which God ordained before the ages for our glory, which none of the rulers of this age knew; for had they known, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory. But, as it is written: “What no eye has seen, nor ear heard, nor the heart of man conceived, what God has prepared for those who love Him,” (1 Corinthians 2:6-9)

The Saturday and Sunday both before and after the celebration of the Elevation of the Cross have their own lectionary readings. The feast is considered so important, that not only does the calendar “point” to it in a “prefeast” and continue the celebration in a “postfeast,” but the scripture readings are assigned to keep our minds on the Cross. In addition, of course, the Elevation of the Cross is a strict fast day in the Church so that we might share in the sacrifice of our Lord. On the Saturday before the Cross, we are given these words of St. Paul above that speak about “the wisdom of God in a mystery.” He contrasts the wisdom of the world, which comes to nothing, and even led “wise men” to crucify the Lord, with a wisdom hidden for our glory. That wisdom which is hidden, which is a mystery, is the Cross. St. Paul tells the Corinthians that the word of the cross is “foolishness” to those who are perishing (1 Corinthians 1). The cross does not make sense to the world. Who would choose humiliation, agony, suffering and death as the way to salvation? Yet, there it is. We are confronted with it especially in the services of Passion Week.

Even we, as Christians trying to live the life of the Church, have to struggle with seeing “through” the world in order to understand what is hidden and mysterious to those captured by the world. We fast, we pray, we give alms, and we forgive as our own crosses when the wisdom of the world tells us to fill ourselves, glorify ourselves, hoard money for ourselves and stick it to the other guy when he deserves it. Nothing about the Christian faith makes sense unless we begin by uniting ourselves to Christ in baptism and taking up our cross. Even then, the demons constantly whisper in our ears: “Take care of yourself. God is not there. A cross is cruel and has no value.” Those who are wise in the hidden mysteries of Christ will never be seen as wise in the eyes of the world. May we all be fools!