Daily Reflection June 10th, 2020

Daily Reflection June 10th, 2020

JUNE 10 Hieromartyr Timothy, Bishop of Prusa

It is not the same to eat your meal with a blessing and to eat it without a blessing. Every meal is God’s table, which God Himself has set for us. This is why it is necessary to thank God as our Host and beg His blessings. Food that has been blessed is more tasty and more satisfying, while unblessed food is unpalatable, unsatisfying and unhealthy. On one occasion, Emperor Theodosius the Younger went for a walk in the surroundings of Constantinople and, seeing the hut of a monk, stopped and visited. The elder asked the emperor whether he would like something to eat? “I would,” answered the emperor. The elder brought bread, oil, salt and water before the emperor. The emperor ate and drank and then asked the monk: “Do you know who I am?” “God knows who you are,” replied the monk. “I am Emperor Theodosius.” The monk bowed down before the emperor silently. The emperor said to him: “I am an emperor and the son of an emperor, but, believe me, never in my life have I eaten such tasty food as I have today with you.” “And do you know why?” asked the elder. “Because,” he continued, “we monks always prepare our food with prayer and blessing, and therefore bitter food is transformed for us into tasty food.  With you, however, food is prepared with much labor, but you do not seek a blessing (from God), and because of that even tasty food becomes tasteless.”(St. Nikolai Velimirovich, Prologue from Ochrid)

Fr John’s Reflection

For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who suppress the truth in unrighteousness, because what may be known of God is manifest in them, for God has shown it to them. For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even His eternal power and Godhead, so that they are without excuse, because, although they knew God, they did not glorify Him as God, nor were thankful, but became futile in their thoughts, and their foolish hearts were darkened. Professing to be wise, they became fools, and changed the glory of the incorruptible God into an image made like corruptible man – and birds and four-footed animals and creeping things. Therefore God also gave them up to uncleanness, in the lusts of their hearts, to dishonor their bodies among themselves, who exchanged the truth of God for the lie, and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever. Amen. For this reason God gave them up to vile passions. For even their women exchanged the natural use for what is against nature. Likewise also the men, leaving the natural use of the woman, burned in their lust for one another, men with men committing what is shameful, and receiving in themselves the penalty of their error which was due. (Romans 1:18-27)

The reading from Romans prescribed in the Church calendar for the first Wednesday after Pentecost is considered very controversial and “bigoted” in today’s world, even by some in the Church. It is certainly ignored. But it is considered that only because those who deem it such fall into the same sin Paul condemns. In many ways, this is a simple reading. Paul states simply that men suppress God’s truth in unrighteousness, even though the truth has been shown by God in creation. That will bring His wrath. Period. The apostle notes how the unrighteousness is manifest: “professing to be wise, they became fools” and made the glory of God into a corruptible image of themselves. In a few short verses, Paul describes the state of fallenness that humanity has allowed itself to embrace. The invisible attributes of God are seen in creation. There is a natural order that reflects Him. The abominations that are acceptable and even exalted in our society today is the corruptible image that we have set up instead of the revealed image of God. Corruption has become the norm. The growing persecution of Christ and the Church is this “Alice in Wonderland” vision of up being down, down being up, evil being good, and good being evil. We have “exchanged the truth of God for lies.” We worship the creature instead of the Creator. We no longer as a culture can identify not only God and His direction for us, we can’t even identify natural order.

And the outcome? God’s wrath. Can you imagine anything sadder than a child being so far gone, so far away, from a parent that the parent can do nothing? That what Paul says will happen to those who fall into this trap. And fall most of our current culture has done. God will give them up to uncleanness. Homosexuality, lesbianism, transgenderism, all the “alphabet” groups that are so “cool” today are what happens when we can’t see God or His natural order. It is what happens when the incorruptible is exchanged for the corruptible. It is what happens when we exchange the truth for a lie. But in today’s social media world, if you call a lie the truth long enough and often enough, if you call abomination “natural” long enough and often enough, it becomes the “truth” to those who are willing to be seduced. And woe to those who don’t toe the line.

One last thing must be said. The image and likeness of God in every single human being can never be completely destroyed. No matter the sin, no matter how deep a fall, God’s image remains imprinted on all of us. So, while we condemn the unrighteousness, the falsehood, and the worship of the creature and his assorted abominations, we pray that the image somehow be awakened again in those far gone. We hope for their repentance. We can (and must) condemn sin, but never the sinner. Today’s culture tells us that all those who fall into abominations are “finding and expressing their true self.” Not only is that a lie, but the Lord said, if you want to “find yourself,” you’d better lose yourself. Nowhere is the Church paddling more upstream than these issues. But St. Paul is clear and the Church is clear. As always, the question becomes, “Am I clear?”