“Every Day I Took Delight in His Presence”

matt14b

Today in the readings for the liturgy, Jesus is trying to explain to his disciples that they must “beware the leaven of the Pharisees and the leaven of Herod,” and the only thing they can think amongst themselves is “we have no bread.”  It occurs to me the apostles here are repeating the same mistake as the Israelites in the desert, and Jesus rebukes them for it:  just as the Israelites had complained to God, even though they had witnessed his miracles at the Red Sea, that they were hungry, so did they too forget and complain as well.  And it seems to me as well that, the leaven of the Pharisees and of Herod were the temptations of the good things God had given them.  The Pharisees, with their traditionalism, had kept Jewish identity intact when it was threatened by an alien but seductive pagan culture of the Seleucid Empire, whereas Herod was a bitter reminder of their loss of political independence, which the Jewish people understandably still yearned for.  So cultural identity, political independence, good in themselves, became the means by which the Evil One crept in, and turned their eyes away from God, so that when he came, they could not recognize Him.   So Jesus must remind them of what they have seen:  “”When I broke the five loaves for the five thousand, how many baskets full of broken pieces did you take up?”  They said to him, “Twelve.” “And the seven for the four thousand, how many baskets full of broken pieces did you take up?” And they said to him, “Seven.”  And he said to them, “Do you not yet understand?””  (Mk. 8:19-21)  Just so, I pray that I too may be reminded of God’s miraculous love for us, and all the wonderful things he gives to us, and not get caught up in the material things I don’t have or the good things not yet granted to me, but keep the eyes of my soul on His Son, who always present in the Eucharist, in the midst of us, if we would but see.

“The only-begotten Son, the Wisdom of God, created the entire universe. Scripture says: You have made all things by your wisdom, and the earth is full of your creatures. Yet simply to be was not enough: God also wanted his creatures to be good. That is why he was pleased that his own wisdom should descend to their level and impress upon each of them singly and upon all of them together a certain resemblance to their Model. It would then be manifest that God’s creatures shared in his wisdom and that all his works were worthy of him.
  For as the word we speak is an image of the Word who is God’s Son, so also is the wisdom implanted in us an image of the Wisdom who is God’s Son. It gives us the ability to know and understand and so makes us capable of receiving him who is the all-creative Wisdom, through whom we can come to know the Father. Whoever has the Son has the Father also, Scripture says, and Whoever receives me receives the One who sent me. And so, since this image of the Wisdom of God has been produced in us and in all creatures, the true and creative Wisdom rightly takes to himself what applies to his image and says: The Lord created me in his works.
  But because the World was not wise enough to recognise God in his wisdom, as we have explained it, God determined to save those who believe by means of the “foolishness” of the message that we preach. Not wishing to be known any longer, as in former times, through the mere image and shadow of his wisdom existing in creatures, he caused the true Wisdom himself to take flesh, to become man, and to suffer death on the cross so that all who believed in him might be saved by faith.
  Yet this was the same Wisdom of God who had in the beginning revealed himself and his Father through himself by means of his image in creatures (which is why Wisdom too is said to be created). Later, as John declares, that Wisdom, who is also the Word, became flesh, and after destroying the power of death and saving our race, he revealed himself and his Father through himself with greater clarity. Grant, he prayed, that they may know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent.
  So now the whole earth is filled with the knowledge of God, since it is one and the same thing to know the Father through the Son, and to know the Son who comes from the Father. The Father rejoices in his Son, and with the same joy the Son delights in the Father and says: I was his joy; every day I took delight in his presence.”
Saint Athanasius, from the Discourses Against the Arians
Memorial of the Seven Founders of the Servites
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~ by Alypius on February 17, 2009.

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