Reflection for October 29, 2020

REFLECTION  •  OCTOBER 29  •  Holy Martyr Anastasia the Roman


But he that endureth to the end shall be saved (Matthew 10:22), said the Lord. Faith is the only light of endurance, for endurance in and of itself implies unbearable darkness. Faith is the shining star in this darkness; faith eases the sharpness of suffering; it bears on its wings all the weight of endurance. St. Abramius gives us a beautiful example of perseverance in endurance. The vexation that the devil caused him by a multitude of temptations and terrors would have driven lesser men to leave one place for another. But Abramius did not want to move, so as not to give the evil demon a cause to rejoice; he remained in his place and defeated the devil. The bishop of that region sent Abramius to a pagan village to convert the villagers to the Christian Faith. After long hesitation, Abramius set out, saying: “Let it be as God wills-I will go out of obedience.” He first built a church in that village. Then he smashed all the idols in plain sight of the villagers. They beat him and whipped him half to death, and drove him from their village. But he prayed to God with tears for them, that the Lord would open the eyes of their hearts to know the truth of Christ. And so the pagans continually beat and abused him over the course of three years, but he constantly prayed to God for them, and was not angered with them, enduring in the Faith as a firm rock. And only after three years of labor, tears, forgiveness and faith, was he rewarded. Suddenly, the consciences of the villagers were awakened and they all came together to Abramius, bowing before him, and receiving the Christian Faith from him. (St. Nikolai Velimirovich, Prologue from Ochrid)

Fr. John’s Reflection

Deceitful scales are an abomination before the Lord, but a righteous weight is acceptable to Him. Wherever arrogance enters, there also is dishonor, but the mouth of the humble meditates on wisdom. When a righteous man dies, he leaves regret, but the destruction of the ungodly is immediate and brings joy. Righteousness cuts straight and blameless paths, but ungodliness embraces wrongdoing. The righteousness of upright men delivers them, but lawless men are taken to their destruction. When a righteous man dies, his hope does not perish, but the boast of the ungodly perishes. (Proverbs 11:1-6)

The wisdom imparted in these verses from Proverbs revolves around “righteousness.” The advice seemingly begins with the practical: don’t cheat (no “thumb on the scale”). But it is much more than practical. Yes, we hope the butcher keeps his thumb off the scale while weighing our purchase, but the righteous weight he speaks about here is connected with humility and wisdom. How often do we try to “tip the scales” by rationalizing and explaining our behaviors and thoughts not to God (for He knows all anyway), but to ourselves? We deceive ourselves in the way we interact with God and fool no one but ourselves. That is an abomination to the Lord.

The righteousness that belongs to a truly righteous person “leaves regret” when death comes, but the destruction of an evildoer “is immediate and brings joy.” This is not necessarily to be taken literally, for we wish the destruction and death of no one. Rather, spiritually, one who is ungodly knows death before dying. We have many “walking dead” in the world, who live without Christ, without faith, without hope, but full of poison and infecting those around them. Isn’t the hope what all of us should wish for: that if we died, there would be regret? That we have lived a life that made a difference and will leave a void when over? I know my fondest wish is that somehow, despite my own frailty and sinfulness, the Church might be happy that I passed through. I hope that my feeble life made a difference wherever God placed me. Ultimately, isn’t that the hope we all should have? When I’m away for a bit, and someone says “I missed you,” I reply, “It’s nice to be missed!” Finally, the death of a righteous man does not kill his hope. But the unrighteous put their hope only in this life, which is perishing. What is the Hope of a righteous man? He (Hope) awaits the righteous with an eternal embrace of love. May we be humble and wise enough to know Hope, to keep our eyes on Him, and to never lose faith in Him.


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