Daily Reflection May 6th, 2020

Daily Reflection May 6th, 2020

MAY 6 Righteous Job the Long-suffering


Abba Isaiah said of himself: “I see myself resembling a horse wandering around without a rider. Whoever finds him, sits on him and rides him to his content. When one rider dismounts the horse, another saddles him and does the same, likewise the third and so on.” This great ascetic, about whom everyone said with amazement that he had attained perfection, spoke this of himself either out of humility or from remembrance of his time of imperfection. The main thing is that these words are true in relation to every Christian who walks spiritually unbridled and unrestrained. Just as soon as one passion dismounts, another mounts him. Just as soon as one wearies him and leaves him in despair, another mounts him with the deluded hope that it will make him happy. Such a man does not have a rider who would direct him to the true path without digressing to the left or to the right. The only friendly rider that should be greeted with a welcome is the holy and powerful Christian spirit.
(St. Nikolai Velimirovich, Prologue from Ochrid)

Fr John’s Reflection

When he prays about his possessions, his marriage and his children, he is not ashamed to speak to a lifeless thing, and he appeals to a weak thing concerning his health. Concerning life he prays to something dead; concerning aid he supplicates something ignorant; and concerning a journey, something that cannot take a step; concerning means of livelihood, profit and success with his hands; he requests bodily strength from something powerless with its hands. (Wisdom of Solomon 13:17-19)

Today’s selection is, once again, from my journey through the Wisdom of Solomon. The author speaks about the place and futility of idols in the lives of those who build them up instead of turning to the Living God. After demonstrating that idols are merely wood, metal and paint, and actually need to be nailed to something to stand up, he turns his attention to the uselessness of idols. What a contrast! Praying to a lifeless thing about possessions, marriage and children; to a weak thing about health; to something dead about life; to something ignorant about aid; to something that cannot take a step about a journey; to something with no hands about strength in his hands. That’s why we Orthodox pray through icons and not to icons. It would be almost comical if not so serious. Almost absurd except for the fact that much of it hits home even to us today.

There are so many idols in our world today. Orthodox Christians are not immune to the temptations of idols. We set them up in our lives all the time. There are all sorts of usual suspects: money, power, possessions, sex, drugs and alcohol, gambling, etc. In these perilous times, a question must be asked though: have we set up life itself as an idol? A pandemic raging throughout the world has forced all of us to take a look at the biggest idol of all: our physical well-being. A friend of mine asked in one of our clergy chat groups if the hysteria over current conditions is at least partially caused by a lack of faith in the resurrection, a lack of trust in God, and an idolatrous worship of “life.” A good question. Have we forgotten that we have already died with Christ in baptism and live this life seeking Him and His kingdom? Have we forgotten that we are just sojourners in this world and that faith demands that we die daily so that when we die we “don’t die”? Have we set up life itself (a totally undeserved gift from God) as the idol ruling our lives? A healthy spiritual life is infused with the daily remembrance of death. That remembrance is liberating, because we cannot then be paralyzed by the possibility of physically dying. We are to be smart and adult about caring for ourselves and our health — but not idolatrous. Christ is Risen!