Daily Reflection May 16th, 2020

Daily Reflection May 16th, 2020

MAY 16 St. Theodore the Sanctified, disciple of St. Pachomius the Great


When Theodore the Sanctified was in Panopolis with his spiritual father St. Pachomius, a philosopher approached him and offered to debate with him about the Faith. The philosopher posed these three questions to Theodore: “Who was not born, but died?” “Who was born and did not die?” “Who died and did not decay?” To these questions, St. Theodore replied: “Adam was not born but died. Enoch was born and did not die. Lot’s wife died and did not decay.” And the saint added this advice to the philosopher: “Heed our sound advice; depart from these useless questions and scholastic syllogisms; draw near to Christ, Whom we are serving, and you will receive forgiveness of sins.” The philosopher was silenced by such a pointed answer and, ashamed, he departed. From this, the enormous difference is clearly seen between a pagan philosopher and a Christian saint. The one [the philosopher] loses himself in abstractions, in cleverly twisted words, in contests of logic and in mental gymnastics, while the other [the saint] focuses his whole mind on the Living God and on the salvation of his soul. The one is abstract and dead, while the other is practical and alive. (St. Nikolai Velimirovich, Prologue from Ochrid)

Fr John’s Reflection

…I rejoice, not that you were made sorry, but that your sorrow led to repentance. For you were made sorry in a godly manner, that you might suffer loss from us in nothing. For godly sorrow produces repentance leading to salvation, not to be regretted; but the sorrow of the world produces death. For observe this very thing, that you sorrowed in a godly manner: What diligence it produced in you, what clearing of yourselves, what indignation, what fear, what vehement desire, what zeal, what vindication! (2 Corinthians 7:9-11)

My daily discipline today brings us the words of St. Paul in his second letter to the Corinthians. He has spoken clearly to them about the ungodly manner of living they have exhibited. They seem to have taken offense at the beginning, but Paul explains to them what the chastisement has led to: godly sorrow. When our four children were little, they oftentimes got into disagreements, even fights. When we would break it up (never quite sure after the second child who was really at fault), we would tell the combatants to “say you’re sorry” to each other. Most times, it was a sullen, insincere “I’m sorry” muttered as they went their own ways plotting revenge in some manner. I see the same behavior in my grandchildren. Indeed, anyone with eyes can see this behavior all the time. Paul’s words today illustrate the difference between a muttered “I’m sorry” and the brokenheartedness of true repentance, born of godly sorrow.

Paul rejoices that the offense that the Corinthians first took at his words led them to contemplate their actions, then to be sorry for those actions, and proving their sorrow with diligence to change, clearing themselves with godly actions, indignation at their sin, fear at the separation from God and each other, and vehement desire and zeal to be better. All of that, Paul says, allowed him to exclaim their vindication! Like most things Christian, talk is cheap and we are called to “walk the walk” if we “talk the talk.” How often we can feel and even confess that we are “sorry” for certain sins, but unwilling to show godly sorrow by truly changing our behavior? How often do we recognize great sin in our lives, but justify it by blaming others? How often do we claim things like “I’ll forgive him/her if they apologize, but I’m in the clear and have no need to apologize”? How often do we let little slights and offenses cause true and deep indignation, not at our own pettiness and sin (like Paul said the Corinthians did), but at the actions of another? Countless examples can be listed of sorrows that are not truly “godly.” Muttering “I’m sorry” while plotting some other revenge is not only juvenile, but beneath a Christian. If we want to be vindicated as Paul vindicated the Corinthians, it begins with godly sorrow leading to true repentance. Christ is Risen!