There are times in our lives when we encounter the works of God but are blinded by our sense of pride to see His grace. There are times when we think we are standing up for what is a rule rather than acting in love for others. God calls us to love not just Him, but others enough to have compassion on them. When we allow pride to rule our hearts, whether we are right or not, we are blinded to God love and grace.
When Our Lord met St Photini at Jacob’s Well, He met her at her level and had compassion on her, and she was saved. She then went and invited others to come and see Christ for themselves, and Christ met them at their level, and they were saved. God meets each of us at our level, and then works with our faith to bring us with Him to heaven.
When the paralytic was waiting by the pool of Bethesda to be healed, he complained, “I have no man to put my into the water.” For thirty-eight years he patiently waited for God until that day came. We too have been waiting for God. Once our Churches are reopened, what will our excuse be to not be in Church? In truth we have no excuse because we have The Man, and His name is Jesus Christ.
When it comes to matters of faith, courage is a staple character trait, and nothing requires more courage than obedience. Joseph of Arimathea took courage and approached Pilate for the body of Christ. The Myrrhbearing women took courage to leave their homes at dawn to anoint Jesus. They all had courage to obey the authorities. In a similar way, we must now have courage to be obedient to the Church and remain home until it is safe to gather in groups for worship. Courage does not mean carelessness. Neither Joseph nor the women were careless in their actions.
When we are closed in our homes during this health crisis, we are reminded of the Holy Apostles who were also closed in their home due to fear. Despite the closed door, God was present with His Apostles, just as He was present with you, and is present with you, in your home every time you light your candles and say your prayers as a family. Just because you can’t see Him, doesn’t mean He isn’t there with you. God is always with you.
With the closing of Bright Week, also known as Renewal Week, in the Orthodox Church today, the sense of celebration begins to wind down. If you have attended services this week, albeit virtually, you would have recognized that each Orthros began the same as it did early Sunday morning after the Service of the Resurrection. Tomorrow that will all change.
What happens when we get wrapped up in our own way of thinking? What happens when we don’t allow the evidence in front of us to help shape our thoughts? What happens when we think we know best? Judas happens.
On Holy and Great Wednesday the Orthodox Church commemorates the betrayal of Christ by Judas. This is such a profound day that it is a day of fasting just about year round, with very few exceptions. It is a day in which we recall the risk of being blinded by pride.
During our Christian journey we are constantly being told to love others as ourselves, put the needs of others ahead of our needs, and to serve others. Then somehow we’re told that five virgins that wouldn’t share their oil with others were wise. The virgins that needed oil for their lamps were the foolish ones. Which is it? Serve others or keep the oil to ourselves?
Having just celebrated Palm Sunday and the Saturday of Lazarus, Great Lent almost seems like a distant memory. It is a good reminder that time moves constantly forward, despite and sometimes it feels in spite of our desires to slow it down. Alas, it moves with the same speed every day, and we are blessed with weeks like this to remind ourselves that we don’t have ‘all the time in the world’ to get down what our souls needs getting done.