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December 19, 2020 Reflections from Father Simeon

The Jewish Historian Flavius Josephus in his Antiquities of the Jews, tells us that Adam, the first man, had prophesied that the world would be destroyed twice, once by water and once again by fire. But Adam did not make it clear which would happen first, the fire or the water. So the Ancients, Josephus tells us, built two monuments to preserve all of their knowledge. The first monument, in Egypt, was built of stone and was designed to survive should the world be destroyed with a Flood. The other monument, built in an undisclosed location, was built of brick. If Fire came first, then the Monument of Brick would just bake more and it would survive. But if the Flood came first then the brick monument would be destroyed and the stone monument would survive. As we know, the Old Testament tells us that the Flood of Noah came first.

 But what of this Fire that Adam prophesied about? This Fire was not as the Ancients understood it-- they thought in a material way, not in a spiritual manner. Apostle Paul's letter to the Hebrews 12:29 tells us that our God is a consuming fire. And in another place Christ states, "I came to send fire on the earth, and how I wish it were already kindled!" (Luke 12:49). Christ came into the world to plant the seeds of this Divine Fire, His Grace, into our hearts. This is what happened as a foretaste for the Apostles Peter, James and John at the Transfiguration of Christ, again at Pentecost, our baptisms and this is what Saturday's Gospel talks about. Saturday's Gospel talk about how the "the kingdom of God is like a grain of mustard seed." At our Baptisms, the seed of Divine Grace was planted in our hearts.

 In another place, it starts that this same Kingdom "... is taken by force.." (Matthew 11:12). When seeds are planted, they have to be cultivated. The ground must be tilled, water and prepared and then the seed does sprout. It takes force and effort to prepare for the seed, but once the seed is planted it does the rest on its own. It is the same with Divine Grace, God does all of the work, the healing and transformation but we have to open the door for Him and let Him do it. We are never worthy of salvation but it is very good to prepare. We have to be willing to give up and let Him take control in order for us to experience healing. The work of force that we must constantly do, that prepares us, is humbling ourselves with the knowledge that we cannot save ourselves and let Christ take charge of our salvation and trust in Him. What does this mean? It means that we ought to follow the spiritual medical prescription that Christ give us and participate in the Sacraments of the Church as often as possible, this is the only way to be saved.

 Mustard can be experienced in two different ways. One way is to season our food in a delicious way and we experience its natural healing benefits over time. Organic mustard is actually very healthy and the Lord knew this, and that is why He chose this metaphor. The other way to experience mustard is in a form of a mustard paste or plaster in a compress, which can be used for stiff muscles etc. If we are not prepared for it or it comes in contact with broken skin, it could caustically burn us. It is the same with Divine Grace, if we are prepared for it then at the end of the world we will experience it joyous taste as spiritually healthy individuals (Saints) as God's Kingdom (the Psalmist King David tells us, come taste and see that the Lord is good). Or we can experience Divine Grace as a Caustic Fire at the End Times.

 Adam foresaw the Kingdom of God coming with Power (Mark 9). He saw that Christ God would, at the end of the world, baptize all that exists with Divine Grace and make all things new (Revelation 21:5). With the Flood of Noah, the world was baptized with water and recreated. Only those who were with Noah were safe in the Ark (1 Peter 3:20). With Holy Baptism we received the Seed of Divine Grace, which Christ sowed in us-- it is as if we receive a ticket to be on board the Ark of Salvation which is the Church. Christ is the new Noah and we should choose to remain on Board the Ark of Salvation with Him and be saved as He recreates the world as new.

 

Posted by Fr Simeon Pardalis at 6:00 AM
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