Daily Reflection May 29th, 2020

Daily Reflection May 29th, 2020

MAY 29 Virgin Martyr Theodosia of Tyre

Oh, how great was the fearlessness of the holy men and holy women! When we read about their lives, both shame and pride is awakened involuntarily in us: shame that we have lagged so far behind them, and pride that they are of our Christian race. Neither sickness, nor prison, nor exile, nor suffering, nor humiliation, nor the sword, nor the abyss, nor fire, nor the gallows were able to shake the exalted peace of their souls, firmly attached to Christ, the Helmsman of the universe and of human history. When Emperor Julian apostasized from the Faith and began to lay waste Christianity throughout the entire empire, St. Athanasius the Great quietly spoke of him to the faithful: “It is a small cloud; it will pass!” (Nibicula est, transibit). And indeed, that dark cloud quickly passed, and Christianity lowered its roots even deeper and spread its branches all the more throughout the world. The impotent rage of Julian against Christ passed after several years with Julian’s cry in his death-rattle: “O Nazarene, You have conquered!” O sons of God, why should we be afraid of anything, when God our Father fears nothing?(St. Nikolai Velimirovich, Prologue from Ochrid)

Fr John’s Reflection

Do not be deceived, God is not mocked; for whatever a man sows, that he will also reap. For he who sows to his flesh will of the flesh reap corruption, but he who sows to the Spirit will of the Spirit reap everlasting life. And let us not grow weary while doing good, for in due season we shall reap if we do not lose heart. Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all, especially to those who are of the household of faith. (Galatians 6:7-10)

When the Litiya (the blessing of loaves, wheat, wine and oil) is served at a vigil service, in the second petition, we always hear these words: “Again we pray…for every Christian soul that is afflicted and weary in well-doing, in need of God’s mercies and help…” I think of these words every time I read Paul’s words above to the Galatians. We are not to grow weary while doing good. Our Lord said similarly, “Come to me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” (Matthew 11:28-30)

It might sound strange to say that we can grow weary while doing good. But it is true. It is connected to Paul’s words before that statement. God is not mocked, we sow what we reap. If we sow fleshly works, we will reap corruption. But if we sow to the Spirit, we will reap everlasting life. Isn’t that at the heart of the Christian battle? We struggle to live holy lives in the midst of a battleground full of the landmines of temptations. We pray, we fast, we try to repent of our sins. We strive to do good to others, oftentimes to have the other either not care, be ungrateful or even hate our efforts. The world throws sex, violence, judgment, hatred, and greed in our way and we get weary of trying to overcome it. It seems almost impossible to stay on the straight and narrow and in fatigue, we are tempted to just say, “forget it.” Of course, it IS impossible because we cannot do it alone.

Spiritual fatigue is the child of ego. We approach everything, including spiritual life, as if we can do it ourselves. Only when we turn to the Lord and take His yoke upon ourselves do we realize the futility of a do-it-yourself spirituality. That yoke is submission to the Kingdom of God. A “yoke” can be seen as hardship and difficulty, but the Lord Himself said His is “easy.” St. Paul says in “due season” we shall reap if we don’t lose heart. By praying for MY “Christian soul that is afflicted and weary in well doing, in need of God’s mercies and help,” I begin to wear that yoke. I begin to approach the “due season” when I will reap the bounties of sowing to the Spirit. All other efforts are sowing to the self, and all that brings is fatigue, weariness and a growing temptation to simply quit. Nothing pleases the demons more.