Daily Reflection June 3rd, 2020

Daily Reflection June 3rd, 2020

JUNE 3 Holy Martyr Lucillian and those with him

Oh, if only we could enter into the mystery of God’s Providence in the lives of men! We would be filled with fear and trembling before every evil deed and before every sin of men. I understood Your works, O Lord, and I was afraid (Habakkuk 3:2) In certain great events, the mystery of God’s Providence is obvious even to less spiritual men, for example, in the fate of the Crown Prince Dimitri and the bloodthirsty and power-loving Boris Godunov. In order to arrive at the first place among the noblemen in the court of Tsar Theodore, Godunov poisoned many of the nobles. When he reached the position of being closest to the Tsar, he even planned to poison the brother of the Tsar, the eight-year old Dimitri. On several occasions, through hired mercenaries, he administered the most bitter poison to the young crown prince, but the poison had no effect. Providence permitted the criminal murder his victim, not secretly and quietly, but publicly. Godunov dispatched murderers who slew the crown prince publicly in the middle of the day. Thus, did Dimitri become a public martyr and Godunov a public criminal for all of Russia. After that, a certain Dimitri surfaced and proclaimed that he was the crown prince (as though he were the rightful Crown Prince Dimitri and someone else had been murdered) and set out with an army against Godunov. He defeated Godunov and drove him to such despair that Boris prepared poison and took the poison himself. He, who poisoned others poisoned himself! He who murdered the innocent Dimitri was himself defeated by a man with the name of Dimitri! He who has spiritual eyes to see, let him see the mystery of God’s Providence. (St. Nikolai Velimirovich, Prologue from Ochrid)

Fr John’s Reflection

And He Himself gave some to be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, and some pastors and teachers, for the equipping of the saints for the work of ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ, till we all come to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a perfect man, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ; that we should no longer be children, tossed to and fro and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, in the cunning craftiness of deceitful plotting, but, speaking the truth in love, may grow up in all things into Him who is the head — Christ — from whom the whole body, joined and knit together by what every joint supplies, according to the effective working by which every part does its share, causes growth of the body for the edifying of itself in love. (Ephesians 4:11-16)

My personal reading has me deep in the Epistle to the Ephesians. This wonderful passage above is actually heard during the Church Year. Paul is talking about first, unity (4:1-6), but then about the diversity of spiritual gifts within that unity and how we are to use those gifts. Spiritual gifts given by God to each of us also demands answers to these two questions: have we discerned what those gifts are, and have we used those gifts to the glory of God and His Body (the Church)? Each of us has been given talents and gifts by God that are on the one hand, unique and special to me, and on the other hand, given to “knit together” all of us into a unified Body. I need to pray and discern the gifts that God has given me; but given He has. Look at the Church — Paul says some are apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, some pastors and teachers. But all those gifts are given to “equip the saints for the work of ministry, and the edifying of the body of Christ.” There is a purpose to the gifts that God bestows on us. It isn’t to glorify ourselves nor to somehow “profit,” but rather to build up the Church. But it also isn’t wasted on those who would not use the gifts. Spiritual gifts unused are spoken about by Jesus in the Parable of the Talents. (Matthew 25)

But then Paul turns his attention to the goal: the unity of the faith and the knowledge of the Son of God, to be a “perfect man (person),” standing up to the measure of the fullness of Christ. If we do that, then he exhorts us to no longer be children, tossed every which way by whatever doctrine seems to be popular. How well we know this! We know that there is a huge difference, humanly speaking, but also spiritually speaking, between being child-like and childish. We should pray every day for the innocent trust of a child toward God. Paul is warning us not to be childish, but in spiritual maturity stand strong against those swirling winds of doctrine, the trickery of men and the cunning craftiness of deceitful plotting. If we are child-like, we will actually be strengthened in spiritual maturity and discernment (it’s one of those Christian paradoxes); we will speak the truth in love (how hard that is!) and each and every member (me and you) will come together and knit the Body into love and unity. The whole cannot exist without each part. You and I are the parts.