Daily Reflection for September 14, 2020
DAILY REFLECTION • SEPTEMBER 14 • ELEVATION OF THE CROSS
Just as a candle is lighted from another candle, so also a good work is born from a good work. A patrician wanted to donate a gold cross to a church. He summoned a young but experienced goldsmith, gave him a great deal of gold that he weighed out, and told him to fashion whatever sort of cross he desired. The poor goldsmith, seeing what a large donation this patrician was making for the sake of his soul, became inflamed with love for God in his own heart, and decided that he would add his own ten pieces of gold to the amount of the patrician’s gold. When the cross was completed, the patrician weighed it, and discovered that it was heavier than the gold that he had given to the young man. He immediately began to scold the young man as a thief, suspecting that he had taken some of the gold and replaced it with some other heavy metal. When the young man saw the patrician so angry, he confessed his deed. He said: “I added from my gold, as the widow gave two mites, in order to receive Christ’s reward with you.” Hearing this, the patrician’s heart was touched, and he said to the honorable young man: “From this day, I take you as my son, and the heir of all my goods.” (St. Nikolai Velimirovich, Prologue from Ochrid)
Fr. John’s Reflection
The Lord will reward me according to my righteousness; and according to the purity of my hands He will recompense me, because I kept the ways of the Lord and did not act impiously against my God; for all His judgments are before me, and I did not remove His ordinances from me. I will also be blameless before Him, and I will keep myself from my lawlessness.
The Lord will reward me according to my righteousness; and according to the purity of my hands before His eyes. With the holy You will be holy; and with the innocent man You will be innocent; and with the elect You will be elect; and with the crooked You will be crooked. For You will save a humble people, and You will humble the eyes of the arrogant.
For You will light my lamp, O Lord; O my God, You will enlighten my darkness. For in You I shall be delivered from ordeals, and in my God I shall leap over a wall. My God, His way is blameless; the teachings of the Lord are tried by fire; He is the shield of all who set their hope on Him. For who is God besides the Lord? And who is God besides our God? (Psalm 17:21-32 LXX)
Psalm 17/18 is a long psalm praising the deliverance of David from the hands of his enemies and Saul, who was seeking to kill him. But the psalm also becomes prophetic in pointing to the victory of Christ over the darkness of this world and the enemies of our souls. It also points to the coming of the Gentiles into the Church — the chosen people of God no longer being the nation of Israel, but the New Israel, whose membership is not of blood, but of faith. It is easy to see the parallels between David and Christ, and between David and us. The first paragraph above speaks of the Lord rewarding the righteousness of His servant. That is David, that is Christ (as the faithful and righteous Son of God), and that is each of us, baptized into the new life of righteousness in the Church. When we are not “impious,” when we remember His judgments, when we keep His ordinances, there is recompense: heaven. And it is not out of our reach because He has done it first.
The second paragraph echoes the life of Christ and the teaching of St. Paul. He will be holy with those who are holy, innocent with the innocent, elect with the elect, crooked with the crooked. He will be all things to every person, hoping to bring all to salvation. As Christians, we are to have more than a little reflection of this. With the poor, we should be poor, with the humble, we should be humble. But more difficult, we should have pity on the aggrieved, turn the other cheek to those who would strike us, be quiet in the face of slander and hate. Then we truly reflect David, who reflected Christ, Whose image we are!
Finally, when we act like David, who acted like Christ, Whose image we are, the darkness of this world lifts away, we are delivered from ordeals (it does not say “we will have no ordeals”), and we can leap over walls! All of His teachings have been tried by fire. People of David’s era knew that, thousands of years ago. Why do we think we can come up with something better? Why are we seduced by those of our times who say that His words are anachronistic or “patriarchal” and should be changed or, better yet, dismissed? Truth is truth. Our hope in Him is a shield which cannot be overcome. Hope never fails. For the answer to those who would have us fall away is the same simple message that David wrote down thousands of years ago: Who is God besides the Lord? And who is God besides our God?
November 29, 2023
November 29, 2023
November 29, 2023