The Daily Reflection and Daily Homily are part of St George's global-social ministry designed to spread Orthodox Christianity on a global level through a network of different social media platforms. Content is collected from many sources. Prominent among these are the daily postings of The Very Reverend G. Thomas Moore (Father Thomas) of the Holy Apostles Orthodox Church in Columbia, South Carolina. To reach the widest audience, the daily reflections and homilies are distributed through several social media platforms in addition to the St George website.
An artist is one who, from crude and shapeless stone, carves and shapes forms similar to living creatures. An artist is one who weaves a multi-colored blanket from the wool of sheep. An artist is one who builds a magnificent palace out of earthly bricks. But what kind of artist on earth can be compared to Christ the Artist, who from illiterate men creates wise men, who from fishermen creates apostles, who from cowards creates heroes, who from the immoral creates saints? But all must be given over to the hand of the artist, in order to be fashioned into that which the artist knows and is capable of doing. All things, in truth, must be given over to the hand of the artist. Even men must give themselves over to the hand of Christ, in order for Him to carve, to weave or to build that which only He knows and is capable of. Nineteen past centuries witness to us, that all of them who did not protest [against Him] but rather gave themselves over to Christ the Artist and from the boorish and the ignorant became angel-seeing children of God. --Fr. Thomas Moore
St. Basil the Great said, "Man is not something visible." Just as a house resembles a house, so the outward man resembles the outward appearance of a man. To the house is given honor according to the one who dwells in the house; so it is to man according to the spirit that dwells in him. In the physical sense it is obvious that the house is not the master but just a house in which the master dwells, but in the spiritual sense it is obvious that the body is not the man but only the house in which the man dwells. (The Very Reverend G. Thomas Moore)
God hears the prayers of the just. This is clearly seen from the lives of Moses, Elijah, and the other Old Testament righteous ones and prophets as well as from the lives of the apostles and saints. While St. Genevieve, as a nun, lived a life of asceticism in Paris, it so happened that Attila with his savage Huns surrounded Paris. Fear and terror overcame the entire population of Paris who, at any moment, awaited the capture of the city by the enemy. Then, St. Genevieve called upon the people to fast and to pray to God and then the calamity will be averted. Many men and women responded to the call of this saint and began to fast and pray to God. Genevieve herself fasted the most and prayed most ardently to God. After a short while the enemy turned away from Paris without any visible reason and departed for another place. That which the sword of many sinners cannot do, the prayer of the righteous person can. (The Very Reverend G. Thomas Moore)
Why is it necessary to listen to the Church and not listen to one man who thinks against the Church, even though he might be called the greatest thinker? Because the Church was founded by the Lord Jesus Christ, and because the Church is guided under the inspiration of the Spirit of God. Because the Church represents the realm of the Holy, a grove of cultivated fruit trees. If one rises up against the realm of the Holy, it means that he is unholy and why then listen to him? "The Church is an enclosure," says the all-wise John Chrysostom. "If you are within, the wolf does not enter; but if you leave, the beasts will seize you. Do not distance yourself from the Church; there is nothing mightier that the Church. The Church is your hope. The Church is your salvation. The Church is higher than the heavens. The Church is harder than stone. The Church is wider than the world. The Church never grows old but always renews itself" (The Very Reverend G. Thomas Moore).
How wisely holy men and women knew how to handle their wealth! How skillfully they purchased the eternal goods of heaven with their earthly goods. Oh, how little they valued earthly goods in themselves-as dust and smoke! When St. Melania visited the holy desert fathers in Egypt with the intention of giving them some financial help, she was astonished at seeing their extreme abhorrence of goods and riches. Thus, she visited one hermit, Ephestion, and saw nothing in his cell but mats, a bowl for water, a little dry bread, and a salt pot. Knowing beforehand that the elder would not take any gold from her, she seized the opportunity and placed several gold pieces in the salt pot. However, when she was on her way back, she heard the elder running after her, and at the top of his voice he was calling to her to stop. She stopped. The elder held the gold pieces in the palm of his hand and, handing them to Melania, said: ``I do not need this, take what is yours!'' Melania said to him: ``If you do not need it, give it to someone else.'' He replied: ``No one in this place has any use for it.'' When Melania refused to accept the gold, the elder swung his arm and threw the gold pieces into the river and then returned to his cell.
Here are two more examples of how the Merciful God helps those in misfortune who hope in Him with faith. Blessed Theodora of Caesarea was born into a noble house and then entrusted to the Convent of St. Anna for her education. There Theodora was not only educated but also lived a life of asceticism, preparing herself to receive the monastic tonsure. Emperor Leo the Isaurian took her from the convent by force and betrothed her to one of his commanders. Theodora protested this marriage with all her soul, but was as powerless as a lamb in the paws of a wolf. She lamented and prayed constantly in her heart to God that He would not forsake her. On the day of the marriage, while the guests were feasting, news unexpectedly came to the emperor that the Scythians had attacked his empire. The emperor ordered his commander to go out immediately against the Scythians. The commander went and never returned, for he was killed in battle. Thus, by God's help, St. Theodora was freed. As a pure maiden she returned to her convent, where she received the monastic tonsure and, as a nun, became famous for her rare asceticism.
About death as sleeping
"All were weeping andmourning for her, when Hesaid: `Do not weep any longer, for she is not deadbut sleeping.' `And they ridiculedHim because they knew thatshe was dead" (St. Luke 8 52;53).
The reference here is about the dead daughter of Jarius. Jarius himself said that his daughter had died and his servants confirmed this. But, the Lord, the Giver-of life said: "Do not weep, she is not dead" and they ridiculed Him "because they knew that she was dead." The ignorant pretend that they know better than the Knower. The blind pretend that they see better than the All-seeing One [The Discerner]. But when the young girl arose and showed herself alive, the ignorant "were utterly astounded" (St. Mark 5:42).
Even today, the ignorant ridicule when they hear the divine truth. Divine truth speaks: There is a Living God! And the ignorant ridicule as though knowing that there is no God. Divine truth speaks: There is a Heavenly Kingdom! And the ignorant ridicule even this as though they know that there is not a heavenly kingdom. Divine truth asserts: The dead will resurrect! And the ignorant even deny this as though they know that this will not be. And when God appears and the angels of God appear, and the Kingdom of Heaven is made known, and the dead resurrect, then the ignorant ones will be "astonished with a great astonishment" (St. Mark 5:42).
Who can save the world from the ignorant? No one can save the world except Christ the Omniscience, the Omnipotent. By what can the ignorant be saved? By nothing except by faith in Christ and faith to Christ. Who are the most ignorant ones in the world? They are those who deny whatever Christ claimed and claim whatever He denied. In a word: there are those who think that they know something contrary to the knowledge of Christ. They are the worst and the most dangerous ignorant ones both to themselves and to others.
My brethren, know that everything and everyone can deceive us except Christ the Lord and our Friend. He always knows and we do not always know, except when we look at Him and listen to Him.
O Lord, Merciful and All-merciful, help all the ignorant that, before death and judgment, they may be "astonished with great astonishment" and that they too will be saved in the kingdom of Your holy ones.
To You be glory and thanks always. Amen.
Fr. Thomas Moore
(*) St. John 16:33
About submission to the Will of God
"Your will be done, on earthas in heaven" (St. Matthew 6:10).
Blessed be John the Baptist, for he fulfilled the Good News before the arrival of the Good News! Going into the wilderness, he gave himself up completely to the will of God, both body and soul. The will of God was carried out in his body on earth as well as in the heaven of his soul. Neither hunger nor wild beasts did harm his body throughout the many years that he spent in the wilderness. Neither was his soul harmed by despair because of loneliness, nor pride because of heavenly visions. He did not seek from man either bread or knowledge. God granted him everything that was necessary for him because he gave himself up completely to the will of God.
Neither did he direct his footsteps in the wilderness nor away from the wilderness. An invisible rudder from on high steered his life. For when it was necessary for him to depart the wilderness and go out to meet the Lord, it is said: "The Word of God came to John" (St. Luke 3:2). As an innocent youth, in this manner John spoke simply about his communication with the powers of heaven: "And I did not know Him [Christ] but the One Who sent me to baptize with water told me, `On whomever you see the Spirit come down and remain, He is the One Who will baptize with the Holy Spirit.' Now I have seen and testified that He is the Son of God"
(St. John 1: 33-34). How tenderly and simply he speaks about heavenly things! How he is as awesome as a lion when he speaks out against the injustice of men, against Herod and Herodias! The lamb and the lion dwell in him together. Heaven is as close to him as a mother is to her child. The will of God is as accessible and clear to him as the angels in heaven.
O Lord, Most-wise, direct the lives of us sinners in the wilderness of this life according to Your will as You directed the life of St. John the Baptist. To You be glory and thanks always. Amen (The Very Reverend G. Thomas Moore).
About how we should depart from evil and do good
"Turn from evil, and do good" (Psalm 34:15)
With these words are expressed all our effort by which we should labor here on earth and in the earth, i.e., on this material earth and in this physical body. Therefore, of what then should our labor consist? To achieve two habits: First, to avoid evil and Second, to do good. Concerning that which is good and that which is evil, our conscience tells us incompletely and unclearly because our conscience is darkened by sin; but the teaching of Christ tells us completely and clearly that which is good and that which is evil.
Brethren, what does our Lord ask of us? He asks, that as our altars are always facing the east, so should our souls also be turned toward good. To leave evil behind us; to leave evil in the shadow; to leave evil in the abyss of oblivion; to leave evil in the darkness of the past, that we, from year to year, from day to day, extend ourselves toward good: to think about good; to yearn for good; to speak about good; to do good. The Lord is seeking builders and not destroyers. For whoever builds good, with that alone, he destroys evil. However, he who turns away from destroying evil, quickly forgets how to build good and is transformed into an evildoer.
The apostle of Christ teaches us, "Hate what is evil, hold on to what is good" (Romans 12:9). Hate evil but do not hate the man who commits evil for he is sick. If you can, heal the sick person but do not kill him with your hatred. Adhere to good and only good; for good is from God; for God is the treasury of all good.
O Good and All-good Lord, teach us to avoid evil and to do good for the sake of Your glory and for the sake of our salvation.(The Very Reverend G. Thomas Moore)
On the victory of the Lamb
These shall make war with the Lamb, and the Lamb shall overcome them (Revelation 17:14).
On the Kingdom of the saints
But the saints of the most High shall take the Kingdom and possess the Kingdom forever, even forever and ever (Daniel 7:18).