Daily Reflection May 12th, 2020

Daily Reflection May 12th, 2020

MAY 12 Saint Epiphanius, Bishop of Cyprus


St. Clement of Alexandria tells of a horrible custom among the barbarians. He says that when they capture their enemy, they tie him alive to the corpse of a dead man and leave them bound together so that the living and dead rot together. If only it could be said: “Thank God that this barbarian custom is past!” In essence it has not passed, but reigns today in full force. Everyone who ties their living spirit to flesh deadened by barbarian passions is the same as the one who ties a living man to a corpse and leaves them both to decay (St. Nikolai Velimirovich, Prologue from Ochrid)

Fr John’s Reflection

After these things Jesus walked in Galilee; for He did not want to walk in Judea, because the Jews sought to kill Him. Now the Jews’ Feast of Tabernacles was at hand. His brothers therefore said to Him, “Depart from here and go into Judea, that Your disciples also may see the works that You are doing. For no one does anything in secret while he himself seeks to be known openly. If You do these things, show Yourself to the world.” For even His brothers did not believe in Him. Then Jesus said to them, “My time has not yet come, but your time is always ready. The world cannot hate you, but it hates Me because I testify of it that its works are evil. You go up to this feast. I am not yet going up to this feast, for My time has not yet fully come.” When He had said these things to them, He remained in Galilee. But when His brothers had gone up, then He also went up to the feast, not openly, but as it were in secret. Then the Jews sought Him at the feast, and said, “Where is He?” And there was much complaining among the people concerning Him. Some said, “He is good”; others said, “No, on the contrary, He deceives the people.” However, no one spoke openly of Him for fear of the Jews. (John 7:1-13)

The Feast of Tabernacles was a very important feast for the Jews of those days. It was an eight-day festival commemorating the wandering of the Jews in the wilderness of Sinai, when they lived in tents (also known as tabernacles). Today’s passage from the Gospel of St. John takes us to the beginning of that festival in the last year of the Lord’s sojourn on this earth. Two things stand out in the narrative as we ponder it. First, the challenges by His “brothers” (really step-brothers, sons of Joseph, or cousins) to His ministry. They ridicule Him for not doing things openly, “for even His brothers did not believe in Him.” Secondly, related to the first, is the controversy that He creates with His presence and the wonders He works in the midst of the people. There “was much complaining” among the people, who couldn’t decide if He was good or a deceiver.

If we are honest, don’t we find ourselves in much the same predicament? It can be so tempting to demand that the Lord “show Himself openly,” in a way that is crystal clear to the whole world. Instead, we are called to be like those the Lord blessed to Thomas: “Blessed are those who do not see, yet believe.” The shroud of clouds around the work of the Lord is understandable. True faith is planted and nourished deep in the soul and while eyes and touch can lead to faith, they prove nothing. True faith comes only through the effort to see with the eyes of our hearts and not the eyes in our heads. The fact of the matter is that the Lord could “appear openly” right this second and many would refuse to believe, just like those days. His brothers (family) didn’t necessarily believe in Him. What makes us think the family of believers today would be any different?

Finally, don’t we all, at least sometimes, find ourselves tempted with the same doubts and concerns that were present “among the people?” We complain, even if only in our hearts, when the Lord has not been exactly what we want Him to be. We can’t decide if He is a “good” God or a deceiver when His work in my life is different from my own desires — or worse — is a true cross that He asks us to carry. No one spoke openly about the Lord because they were afraid of the rulers. We are not so far from that fear ourselves. We’re not as different as we think. Christ is Risen!