Daily Reflection May 2nd, 2020

Daily Reflection May 2nd, 2020

MAY 2 St Athanasius the Great


Blessed Maximus the Fool-for-Christ walked naked through the streets of Moscow in winter. In response to the advice of men that he dress and protect himself from the cold, Maximus responded: “Yes, winter is cruel, but Paradise is sweet!” He also said: “For patience, God grants salvation!” When Christ the Lord did not regret giving Himself over to suffering and death, why should we feel sorry for ourselves for our own sakes? Christ prescribed a recipe for us: a diet for our spiritual restoration to health, which He called “an easy yoke.” [For My yoke is easy and My burden is light (Matthew 11:30)]. The yoke that we impose upon ourselves is much heavier, for this yoke pulls us down deeper and deeper into spiritual illness. The earth seeks much greater sacrifices from us and does not promise us any reward after death. The earth seeks that we sacrifice God, our soul, our conscience, our mind, and all human and divine dignity to it. And, in return, it reveals a dark and putrid grave as the end of everything and the reward for all. Christ seeks that we sacrifice only the earth, our beastliness and sin, vice and all wickedness. And, in return, He promises resurrection and eternal life in Paradise. “Yes, winter is cruel, but Paradise is sweet!”
(St. Nikolai Velimirovich, Prologue from Ochrid)

Fr John’s Reflection

And when they found Him on the other side of the sea, they said to Him, “Rabbi, when did You come here?”
​Jesus answered them and said, “Most assuredly, I say to you, you seek Me, not because you saw the signs, but because you ate of the loaves and were filled. Do not labor for the food which perishes, but for the food which endures to everlasting life, which the Son of Man will give you, because God the Father has set His seal on Him.” (John 6:25-27)

Today’s reading from the Gospel of St. John (which is much longer than these last three verses) is preceded in the gospel by the story of two miracles: the feeding of the 5,000 and the miracle of Jesus coming to the disciples on a boat by walking across the sea to them. The people were confused with the absence of Jesus the next morning, as they saw the disciples leave without Him, and saw the same boats there in the morning, so they “tracked Him down” on the other side of the Sea of Tiberias.

It is then, when they question Him about how He got to the other side, that the Lord shows He knows the hearts of men. I can almost see Him smile with resignation when He explains to them they only seek Him because He fed them before and they “were filled.” Then He chastises them that they labor for the wrong food. They should labor for the food which endures for eternity. Him.

This whole episode causes a believer to pause and answer some similar questions, which should arise in each of our hearts. For what do we labor? Is the food that we seek that which is digested and passes through? So often in this world we spend countless hours pursuing wealth, possessions, even good health. It has been shown to us that it is all an illusion. It can all be taken away in the blink of an eye — at the very least by a virus, at the very worst by death. All of us who claim to be Christian must spend our time (even when we are working, etc.) seeking the Food of Immortality, who is Christ. We stand at the edge of the Sea of Tiberias in our daily lives. If we choose to go after Him, we must always be ready to ask (and answer), “Why?” Christ is Risen!