Daily Reflection for September 18, 2020

DAILY REFLECTION  •  SEPTEMBER 18  •  Saint Eumenes, Bishop of Gortyna


The Lord said: Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these My brethren, ye have done it unto Me (Matthew 25:40). Similar things happen in almsgiving and in Holy Communion. In Holy Communion we receive the Living Lord Christ Himself, in the form of bread and wine; in almsgiving we give to the Living Lord Christ Himself, in the form of the poor and needy. A certain man in Constantinople was unusually merciful. Walking along the streets of the city, he would press his gift into the hands of the poor and hurry onward, so he would not hear their gratitude or be recognized. When a friend of his asked how he had become so merciful, he replied: “Once in church I heard a priest say that whoever gives to the poor, gives into the hands of Christ Himself. I didn’t believe it, for I thought, ‘How can this be, when Christ is in heaven?’ However, I was on my way home one day and I saw a poor man begging, and the face of Christ shone above his head! Just then a passerby gave the beggar a piece of bread, and I saw the Lord extend His hand, take the bread, and bless the donor. From then on, I have always seen Christ’s face shining above the beggars. Therefore, with great fear I perform as much charity as I can.” (St. Nikolai Velimirovich, Prologue from Ochrid)

Fr. John’s Reflection

My son, do not be careless, but keep my counsel and thinking, that your soul may live, and grace may be around your neck. And there will be healing for your flesh and care for your bones, that you may walk confidently in peace in all your ways, and your foot may not stumble. For if you sit down, you will be without fear, and if you lie down, your sleep will be pleasant.
            And do not be afraid of intimidation when it comes upon you, nor of the attack of the ungodly when it comes at you; for the Lord will be over all your ways, and He will plant your feet firmly, that you may not be shaken. Do not withhold doing good to the needy, when you may give a helping hand; do not say, when you are able to do good, “Come back tomorrow, and I will give you something”; for you do not know what the next day will bring forth. (Proverbs 3:23-31)

Wisdom speaks to us from the words of Proverbs. This little passage reminds us to not be careless, but diligent in keeping the counsel and thinking of Wisdom. Holding onto Wisdom (the Lord) brings healing of soul and body, a confident walk in peace without stumbling, sitting without fear, and lying down to a peaceful slumber. Anxiety is a killer, both physically and spiritually. In our hectic, go-go world, I am always trying to make sure everything is going in the direction in which I want it to go. We struggle physically because we do not go out into the fields and plow, pull up, weed, harvest and cart our goods — get our hands dirty. We struggle mentally because we fill our minds with trash (innocuous or even deadly). We also fail to exercise in other ways to keep body and mind healthy. We can’t sit peacefully for any length of time without some distraction. We cannot get a good night’s sleep because something wakes us up or “needs to be done.” The first part of this passage begs us to keep Wisdom a daily part of our lives. When we do, everything calms down.

The second part of this passage reminds us that Wisdom takes away fear and gives confidence. We know there is intimidation and attacks from the demons in this world. We should not be surprised when they happen. But when we cleave to Wisdom, He plants our feet firmly, protecting us from “being shaken” (i.e., overwhelmed by temptation). And finally, in a very simple concrete message, Wisdom tells us not to procrastinate in doing good. What is the old saying? The road to hell is paved with good intentions?  We are reminded not to “withhold doing good” (especially to the needy) when we have the ability to do so because we don’t know what tomorrow brings.  Putting off good is such a common temptation to us in this world. We get busy, we “don’t have any money,” we are doing something else. But when the opportunity to do good passes us, and there is no tomorrow, too bad for us. Intentions to do good are good. Actually doing good is better.