Daily Reflection for September 17, 2020

DAILY REFLECTION  •  SEPTEMBER 17  •  Holy Martyr Sophia, and her daughters, Faith, Hope and Love


A faithful and God-fearing ruler is a true blessing for all people. King Vatslav of the Czechs was such a ruler. His zeal for the sanctity of the Faith and his steadfastness remind us of the ancient ascetics. During the day he devoted himself to the affairs of the state, and at night to prayer. In winter, he often walked barefoot to the church for Matins with his old servant Podivoi. He often prepared and baked prosphora himself, especially when he desired to receive Holy Communion. Because of his care for the Faith, many churches were built, in which daily services to God were celebrated. He especially concerned himself with the poor and needy. He was a lover of peace, yet also a great and fearless hero. When the neighboring Prince Radislav attacked the Czech lands, Vatslav sent him a letter asking why he was waging war. The proud Radislav replied that he wanted Vatslav to cede all the Czech lands, and his throne, to him. Vatslav promptly amassed a large army and confronted his enemy. Yet, pondering on the two powerful armies, he mourned that so many men would die, and sent a message to Radislav: “The quarrel is between you and me; you desire to rule the land of the Czechs and I will not yield. Agree to resolve this matter with a duel between the two of us. Why shed so much blood in a battle between two armies?” Prince Radislav agreed to this duel, and was defeated by Vatslav. On his knees, he begged him for forgiveness. (St. Nikolai Velimirovich, Prologue from Ochrid)

Fr. John’s Reflection

But before faith came, we were kept under guard by the law, kept for the faith which would afterward be revealed. Therefore the law was our tutor to bring us to Christ, that we might be justified by faith. But after faith has come, we are no longer under a tutor. For you are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus. For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus. And if you are Christ’s, then you are Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise.
            Now I say that the heir, as long as he is a child, does not differ at all from a slave, though he is master of all, but is under guardians and stewards until the time appointed by the father. Even so we, when we were children, were in bondage under the elements of the world. But when the fullness of the time had come, God sent forth His Son, born of a woman, born under the law, to redeem those who were under the law, that we might receive the adoption as sons.
(Galatians 3:23-4:5)

Today’s lectionary selection from the Epistle to the Galatians speak about our relationship to God and how that relationship is manifested and defined by faith. Simply put, our faith in Christ Jesus in the life of the Church makes us children and heirs of God. Paul talks about the law being the “tutor” which was given by God to bring us to Christ. But now that we have come to Christ, we no longer have a tutor: “As many as have been baptized into Christ have put on Christ.” We hear that at every baptism and every baptismal feast, and it means that we are united with Christ just like we are united to our parents and kinfolk by blood and relationship. The world tells us that when Paul says there is “neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female,” he is proving that there is no distinction in persons. A male can be a “female” if he chooses, a person can desire intimate relations with a person of the same sex, etc., because there is no distinction of persons. But St. Paul was not saying there is no distinction. He is saying that there is no discrimination in salvation — anyone who is “baptized into Christ puts on Christ.” Faith and entrance into the death and resurrection through baptism is the only distinction. You have it, salvation is possible. You don’t…

St. Paul also, however, makes clear that a “child” of God must grow into maturity. He talks about an heir, when a child, is no different from a slave, because the child is subject to guardians and stewards. To move away from those guardians and stewards in our relationship with Him requires growth and maturity, and the direct intervention of God. As children, before Christ, we belonged to God, but were under bondage to the “elements of the world.” Then the “fulness of time” came and the Son of God was born into the world, under the law, to redeem us and make possible our adoption as heirs of God Himself. So, we are called to be joined together with each other, with the Church, and with Christ, to truly grow and live a mature life and be prepared as heirs to receive our inheritance: the Kingdom of Heaven. None of us in the Church today lived before the “fulness of time.” We have all been blessed to know the Son of God and His Spirit. But all of us in the Church today still need growth and maturity to truly become heirs.