Daily Reflection May 1st, 2020

Daily Reflection May 1st, 2020

MAY 1 Holy Prophet Jeremiah


The Venerable Paphnutius of Borovsk said to his disciples that a man’s soul and his hidden works can be known by the look in his eyes. This seemed unbelievable to his disciples until this man of God actually confirmed it on more than one occasion. Foreseeing the fate of others, Paphnutius also foresaw his own fate. A week before, while still in good health, he prophesied that he would depart this world on the following Thursday. When Thursday dawned, he joyfully cried out: “Behold, the day of the Lord, rejoice O ye people; behold, the awaited day has come!” Behold, this is how a man meets death; a man who, during his whole life, pondered on separation from this world and the encounter with God.
(St. Nikolai Velimirovich, Prologue from Ochrid)

Fr John’s Reflection

And the Father Himself, who sent Me, has testified of Me. You have neither heard His voice at any time, nor seen His form. But you do not have His word abiding in you, because whom He sent, Him you do not believe. You search the Scriptures, for in them you think you have eternal life; and these are they which testify of Me. But you are not willing to come to Me that you may have life.

​I do not receive honor from men. But I know you, that you do not have the love of God in you. I have come in My Father’s name, and you do not receive Me; if another comes in his own name, him you will receive. How can you believe, who receive honor from one another, and do not seek the honor that comes from the only God?
​Do not think that I shall accuse you to the Father; there is one who accuses you – Moses, in whom you trust. For if you believed Moses, you would believe Me; for he wrote about Me. But if you do not believe his writings, how will you believe My words?” (John 5:37-44)

In today’s assigned reading from the Gospel of St. John, we are brought into a discourse in which the Lord explains that He and the Father are one. This discourse was provoked because the Lord had healed the paralytic at the Sheep’s Pool in Bethesda. The leaders hated Jesus because the people followed Him, but also because He had “broken the Sabbath” in the healing. This pharisaical (no pun intended) behavior allows the Lord to shine His light on who they really are. He illustrates (and condemns) clear indicators of this behavior:

1. If anyone truly hears the voice of God, he would recognize the Son. Proof they had, in fact, not heard His voice is shown by their not believing in Him.
2. If anyone truly searches the Scriptures seeking eternal life, but does not see the Scriptures testifying to the Christ, it is simply blindness. Reading the Scriptures should move us to come to Him to have life.
3. If another comes in his own name, he is received. But when the Lord comes in His Father’s name, Him you do not receive. Pharisees will gladly receive honor from one another, but do not seek the honor that comes from the only God. We hear also in the Gospel of St. John that they “loved the praise of men, more than the praise of God.”
4. Finally, with a similar echo in the parable of Lazarus and the Rich Man, the Lord tells the Pharisees that if they truly believed Moses, they would believe Him, because Moses pointed to Him. He was there in the flesh, but even if not, the Scriptures were enough. That He was there in the flesh, makes the condemnation even greater.

As always, we Christians should be constantly battling the temptation to be pharisees. Let us look at the checklist above and compare it to our own lives. How humbling it is to see ourselves in so much of it far too often. But let us also be reminded that we not only have the Scriptures, but we also have the Lord Himself in the flesh. We hear Him, we see Him, we touch Him, we even taste Him in the liturgy. He has given us everything. May the humbling realization that I am not that far from being a true pharisee lead me to true repentance and confidence in the forgiveness and acceptance of the Risen Christ! Christ is Risen!