Daily Reflection May 13th, 2020

Daily Reflection May 13th, 2020

MAY 13 MID-PENTECOST, Virgin Martyr Glyceria


Concerning the power of death and the power of the Cross of Christ, St. Athanasius writes: “Whose death ever drove out demons? And whose death has caused more fear in the demons than the death of Christ? Where the name of Christ is invoked, every demon is driven out. Who has tamed spiritual passions in people to such a measure that prostitutes come to live chaste lives, murderers lay down the sword, and the fearful become courageous? Has not the Faith of Christ? Has not the sign of the Cross? And what else has so convinced men of immortality as the Cross of Christ and the Resurrection of the Body of Christ? The death of the Sinless One and the Cross of the Lover of men have brought a greater and more lasting victory than have all the earthly kings with their many millions of soldiers. Which army was able to defeat a single demon? Only the mention of the name of the Crucified One puts to flight the army of demons. Oh, if all Christians would know what a treasure they have in the name of Christ, and what a weapon they have in the Cross of Christ!(St. Nikolai Velimirovich, Prologue from Ochrid)

Fr John’s Reflection

Give heed with your ears, and follow My ways. Hearken to me, and your soul shall live in good things; and I will make with you an everlasting covenant. And you shall call upon Me. And when you shall draw near to Me, let the impious depart from his ways, and the transgressor his counsels; and you shall return to Me, and I will forgive you and will forgive your sins. “For My counsels are not as your counsels, neither are your ways My ways,” says the Lord. “But as the heaven is distant from the earth, so are My ways distant from your ways, and your thoughts from My thoughts. For as rain shall come down, or snow, from heaven, and shall not return thither until it waters the earth, bring forth and sprout, and give seed to the sower, and bread for food, so shall My word be. Whatever shall proceed out of My mouth, shall not return to me empty until it has accomplished all that I have purposed; and I will set aright your ways, and effect My commandments. (Isaiah 55 composite for mid-feast)

Mid-Pentecost is celebrated not just because today is halfway from Pascha to Pentecost. That alone would make the day worthy of celebration. The feast is essentially a celebration of the wisdom of God, who is Christ. In his first letter to the Corinthians, Paul says, “For Jews request a sign, and Greeks seek after wisdom; but we preach Christ crucified, to the Jews a stumbling block and to the Greeks foolishness, but to those who are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and wisdom of God. Because the foolishness of God is wiser than men, and the weakness of God is stronger than men.” (1 Cor. 1:22-25) Christ is wisdom incarnate. Like many things in the scriptures, we are given a paradox: Christ is wisdom and power, but the foolishness and weakness of God is wiser and stronger than men. If you want to saved, lose yourself. He who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted. Example after example. Fools for Christ is a category of sainthood — they all have a common bond. The world thinks they are mad. Paradox.

The reading quoted above from Isaiah is a portion of the assigned reading at Vespers for Mid-Pentecost. If we are truly celebrating the wisdom of God, then it is vital that we hear the words of God through the Prophet: “My counsels are not as your counsels, neither are My ways your ways.” Not even close; as far as heaven is from earth. This feastday challenges me to be a Christian seeking His wisdom, not my own, His ways, not my own, His thoughts, not my own. Ultimately, we are reminded that the foundation of every prayer is given by the Lord Himself, when He tells us “say these words”…Our Father… Thy will be done. Every prayer, every request, every petition has those words underlying them. Thy will be done. True kenosis (self-emptying) and holiness comes about with making my mind, my thoughts, my efforts, my desires nothing other than His. Much easier said than done! My wisdom is but foolishness, my ways are but paths astray, and my thoughts lead to confusion. I am capable of true knowledge and wisdom, a path to the Kingdom of heaven, and clear and holy thoughts only when I am yoked to the Wisdom of God. Happy feast! Christ is Risen!