Daily Reflection May 11th, 2020

Daily Reflection May 11th, 2020

MAY 11 Holy Equals-to-the-Apostles Cyril and Methodius, Evangelizers of the Slavs


In the Saracen encampment they asked St. Cyril: “How can Christians wage war and at the same time keep Christ’s commandment to pray to God for their enemies?” To this, St. Cyril replied: “If two commandments were written in one law and given to men for fulfilling, which man will be a better follower of the law: the one who fulfilled one commandment or the one who fulfilled both?” The Saracens replied: “Undoubtedly, he who fulfills both commandments.” St. Cyril continued: “Christ our God commands us to pray to God for those who persecute us and even to do good to them, but He also said to us: Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends (John 15:13). That is why we bear the insults that our enemies cast at us individually and why we pray to God for them. However, as a society, we defend one another and lay down our lives, that you would not enslave our brethren, would not enslave their souls with their bodies, and would not destroy them in both body and soul. (St. Nikolai Velimirovich, Prologue from Ochrid)

Fr John’s Reflection

You are the light of the world. A city that is set on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do they light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a lampstand, and it gives light to all who are in the house. Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven. Do not think that I came to destroy the Law or the Prophets. I did not come to destroy but to fulfill. For assuredly, I say to you, till heaven and earth pass away, one jot or one tittle will by no means pass from the law till all is fulfilled. Whoever therefore breaks one of the least of these commandments, and teaches men so, shall be called least in the kingdom of heaven; but whoever does and teaches them, he shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven. (Matthew 5:14-19)

Today the Church honors the memory of Saints Cyril and Methodius, called “equals-to-the-apostles” and Evangelizers of the Slavs. They were brothers from Thessalonica, with Methodius serving as an officer among Macedonian Slavs before taking monastic vows. Together, they went to the Khazars, eventually converting the king and many of his subjects to Christianity. They eventually composed the Slavonic alphabet and translated service books and the Scriptures into Slavonic. They went to Moravia, where they continued their translation work and evangelism, converting many to the Faith. Eventually (a hundred years after their deaths!), with the conversion of St. Vladimir and Rus’, their translation work brought the Orthodox Faith to millions of people. Their alphabet is used in Slavic Churches to this day.

Their evangelism is a shining light to the world. The passage from St. Matthew’s Gospel is chosen for them for the enlightenment they brought to millions. They never kept the Light of Christ hidden under a basket, but put it on the highest lampstand they could find. The verse “Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven” is proclaimed to this day after a bishop is vested and he takes the trikiri and dikiri candlesticks and blesses the people before the start of liturgy. The bishop is the embodiment of the evangelism and enlightenment brought to the Slavic peoples by Saints Cyril and Methodius. Each and every one us is also called to do just that.

One other thing must also be said: the work of the brothers and their exaltation as “equals-to-the-apostles” is an exclamation point on the principle in the Church that the Faith must be understandable to the people. Language is a gift from God that allows human beings to understand each other, but also to understand God. The history of the Church is clear: the Faith must be imparted to a people in a language they use daily and can understand. The affectation of keeping foreign languages for daily church use is cultural and emotional. In Russia (or any other nation), the Faith must be taught and served in a language they understand. In America, the Faith must be served and imparted in English, the language of the people. Any church using a foreign language anywhere by definition cannot be evangelical. The Church becomes a cultural statement rather than the living Body of Christ. Just imagine if I wrote these daily reflections in a language other than English. God forbid! Christ is Risen!