Daily Devotional for April 22-28
Mark 15: Now when evening had come, because it was the Preparation Day, that is, the day before the Sabbath, 43 Joseph of Arimathea, a prominent council member, who was himself waiting for the kingdom of God, coming and taking courage, went in to Pilate and asked for the body of Jesus. 44 Pilate marveled that He was already dead; and summoning the centurion, he asked him if He had been dead for some time. 45 So when he found out from the centurion, he granted the body to Joseph. 46 Then he bought fine linen, took Him down, and wrapped Him in the linen. And he laid Him in a tomb which had been hewn out of the rock, and rolled a stone against the door of the tomb. 47 And Mary Magdalene and Mary the mother of Joses observed where He was laid.Now when the Sabbath was past, Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James, and Salome bought spices, that they might come and anoint Him. 2 Very early in the morning, on the first day of the week, they came to the tomb when the sun had risen. 3 And they said among themselves, “Who will roll away the stone from the door of the tomb for us?” 4 But when they looked up, they saw that the stone had been rolled away—for it was very large. 5 And entering the tomb, they saw a young man clothed in a long white robe sitting on the right side; and they were alarmed.
6 But he said to them, “Do not be alarmed. You seek Jesus of Nazareth, who was crucified. He is risen! He is not here. See the place where they laid Him. 7 But go, tell His disciples—and Peter—that He is going before you into Galilee; there you will see Him, as He said to you.”
8 So they went out quickly[a] and fled from the tomb, for they trembled and were amazed. And they said nothing to anyone, for they were afraid.
From Venerable Bede…
As then the women shew the great fervency of their love, by coming very early in the morning to the sepulchre, as the history relates, according to the mystical sense an example is given to us, that with a shining face, and shaking off the darkness of wickedness, we may be careful to offer the fragrance of good works and the sweetness of prayer to the Lord. Matthew shews clearly enough, that the stone was rolled away by an Angel. This rolling away of the stone means mystically the opening of the Christian sacraments, which were held under the veil of the letter of the law; for the law was written on stone.
Matthew 9:9-13 At that time, as Jesus passed on from there, he saw a man named Matthew sitting at the tax office. And he said to him, “Follow me.” And he arose and followed him. And as he sat at the table in the house, behold, many tax collectors and sinners came and sat down with him and his disciples. And when the Pharisees saw this, they said to his disciples, “Why does your Teacher eat with tax collectors and sinners?” When Jesus heard it, he said to them, “Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. “Go and learn what this means: ‘I desire mercy and not sacrifice.’ For I came not to call the righteous, but sinners, to repentance.”
*The rest of the week will have readings from St. Nikolai’ ‘Prologue’
External cleanliness becomes a man. But that is a lesser cleanliness. Internal cleanliness is incomparably more important than external cleanliness. That is a greater cleanliness. A dish can be used only if it is washed and clean on the inside, even though the outside is dark and sooty. If a glass is dirty on the inside, its external cleanliness will never attract anyone to drink from it. If a bowl is dark and ashy on the inside, who will dare to eat from it? In the world there are many more teachers and examples of external cleanliness than there are of internal cleanliness. For it is easier to teach and demonstrate external cleanliness than internal. Behold, brethren, how the Teacher and Model of great cleanliness sets this great cleanliness in dependence on internal almsgiving. Almsgiving that is performed from the heart purifies a man’s heart. Almsgiving that is performed from the soul cleanses a man’s soul. Almsgiving that is performed from the entire mind cleanses a man’s mind. In a word, internal almsgiving cleanses the entire man. If almsgiving is only from the hand, it does not cleanse the hand, much less the heart, soul and mind. Almsgiving from the hand is indispensable, but it cleanses the giver only when the heart moves the hand to almsgiving. Besides almsgiving from the hand, there exist other types of almsgiving. Prayer for people is internal almsgiving, as is sorrow for human pain and rejoicing for the joy of others. This is almsgiving which proceeds from the heart and creates cleanliness in the heart, soul and mind.
Whenever we are outside the grace of God, we are outside of ourselves. Compared
with our grace-filled nature, we find ourselves in no better condition than an insane man compared with a healthy man. Only a blessed man is a natural man, i.e., a man of higher and unspoiled nature, in which the grace of God rules and governs. St. Simeon the New Theologian says: “A lamp, even if it is filled with oil and possesses a wick, remains totally dark if it is not lit. So it is with a soul that appears to be adorned with all the virtues: if it does not have the light and the grace of the Holy Spirit, it is extinguished and dark” (Homily, Number 59). As the great Apostle also says: By the grace of God I am what I am (I Corinthians 15: 10). However, to be without grace means to be alienated from God and alienated from the reality of our own individual being. Our being, our personality, confirms our reality and receives its fullness only in nearness to God. That is why we must look at sinners as we look upon the sick: as weak shadows, without reality and without a mind.
Destroy this body, and in three days I will raise it up! Thus speaks One Who knows His might and Who, according to His might, fulfilled His words. For His body was destroyed, broken, pierced, buried and covered with darkness for three days. And on the third day He raised it: raised it not only from the grave on earth but raised it up to the heavens. And so He spoke the word and His word came to pass. The Lord gave a sign to the Jews, for they sought a sign from Him. And when He gave them a sign, such as no one else before Him had been able to give, they did not believe Him. Instead, confused and frightened, they bribed the guards from Golgotha to swear falsely and to proclaim the lie that this miraculous sign had not occurred, and that His disciples had stolen His body from the tomb! No sign whatsoever helps those who do not want to believe. With their own eyes, he Jews witnessed the many of Christ’s miracles; but nevertheless they did not want to believe. They justified their unbelief, saying that He performed these miracles through the prince of the devils (Matthew 9: 34). Whoever does not want to believe in good, all the signs that heaven can give will not help him. A heart filled with evil is harder than granite. A mind darkened by sin cannot be illuminated by all the light of heaven, whose light is greater than a thousand suns. When man expels evil from his heart and delivers his mind from the darkness of sin, then he sees the numerous signs that God gives to those who want to believe— who see and believe.
I am that Bread of Life (John 6: 48). Thus spoke the Lord Jesus to the hungry human race. These words have been proved throughout the centuries to Christ’s innumerable followers, who have received the Lord as the nourishment of their souls. A desperate young man who was close to suicide confessed to a spiritual father. The spiritual father listened to him carefully and said to him: “My son, you are to blame for your misfortune. Your soul is starved to death.
Throughout your entire life, you learned only how to nourish your body, but you never thought that the soul requires greater and more frequent nourishment than the body. Your soul is on the verge of dying from hunger. My son, eat and drink Christ. Only this can restore your soul from death. Every day eat and drink of Christ. He is the Life-creating Bread of our souls.” The young man obeyed the elder and returned to life. Brethren, let us nourish our souls with Christ, that our souls may be alive and healthy. Let us continually nourish our minds with Christ’s thoughts, that our minds might be enlightened and clear. Let us continually nourish our hearts with the love of Christ, that our hearts might be full and joyful. Let us continually nourish our wills with the commandments of Christ and the example of Christ, that our wills might perform good deeds every minute. Let Christ’s thoughts be our thoughts and Christ’s love be our love and Christ’s good will be our good will. Let us continually nourish our souls with Christ the Lord; with our soul let us continually eat Him and drink Him! There
O my brethren, in truth, Christ is constantly with us as light is constantly with eyes that see. But it is to our sorrow if the eyes of our souls are closed, for then in vain does the light labor to encounter the pupils of our eyes! Oh, our sorrow and grief when we are not with Christ! He goes out to meet us. Are we going out to meet Him? He wants to be with us. Do we want to be with Him? If we want consolation, we must be with Him every day, to the end of our lives.