Daily Reflection May 23rd, 2020

Daily Reflection May 23rd, 2020

MAY 23 Venerable Michael, Bishop of Synnada


A spiritual man interprets all things and all natural phenomena in a spiritual and symbolic manner, and from everything he draws benefit for his soul. Once, the brethren came to St. John the Dwarf and began to tell him how a heavy rain had fallen and watered the palms, and how new branches had begun to sprout on the palms so that the monks would have enough material for their handiwork. St. John thought and said to the brethren: “In the same manner the Holy Spirit enters the hearts of the saints, so that they are renewed and put forth the branches of the fear of God.” (St. Nikolai Velimirovich, Prologue from Ochrid)

Fr John’s Reflection

There are three things beautiful to see, and they are beautiful before the Lord and men: the harmony of brothers, friendship between neighbors, and a wife and husband well-adjusted together. My soul hates three kinds of men, and I am very offended at their lifestyle: a beggar who is arrogant, a rich man who is a liar, and an old man who is an adulterer and lacks understanding. (Wisdom of Sirach 25:1-2)My personal discipline brings again to our reflection the Wisdom of Sirach. In these two little verses, he contrasts three things that are “beautiful before the Lord and men” and three things in men that he “hates.” Such powerful words he uses! Of course, the imagery is used to speak about all human beings. The virtues of harmony of brothers, friendship among neighbors, and a good marriage are not just examples that he has known in his own life, but are metaphors for the life all of us should seek. “Brothers” does not, of course, refer only to brothers in the flesh, but all humanity. Virtuous and holy people are in harmony not only with each other, but actually with all of creation. The lives of the saints are filled with stories of the holy ones in harmony with men and beasts, even creation itself (storms obey them, tsunamis stop at a shore, fires do not advance past a line drawn in the dirt, etc.). One can remember the question asked of our Lord: “and who is my neighbor?” leading to the Parable of the Good Samaritan. A marriage is not only an institution between men and women, but an icon of the mystical relationship between Christ and the Church.

But in contrast, the imagery used on the other side of the coin is also speaking about all human beings. Everyone has encountered beggars. Some are Christ come in disguise, some are arrogant users who prey on the kindness of the goodhearted. It is hard to tell sometimes. But distinguish we must. When we consider the wealthy (one might argue that to one extent or another, we all are wealthy compared to the rest of the world), we hope to encounter truth and generosity. That is not always the case. And nothing is worse than an old fool who chases women and is stupid. And that is also a metaphor — because we can all “cheat” by loving anyone or anything other than Christ. Nothing demonstrates ignorance and stupidity more than that!

Our task, of course, is to live out our lives choosing which group we belong to. May we make good choices! Christ is Risen