Daily Office Readings for Wednesday of the 4th Week of Easter: Year 2
Morning, Psalm 119:49-72; Evening, Psalm 49;
Exodus 33:1 to 23 ; 1st Thessalonians 2:1 to 12; Matthew 5:17 to 20:
“For the Lord had said to Moses, “Say to the Israelites, ‘You are a stiff-necked people; if for a single moment I should go up among you, I would consume you. So now take off your ornaments, and I will decide what to do to you.” (Exodus 33:5)
I guess “stiff-necked” is a good way to describe our arrogance toward people who differ from us or our ungratefulness towards God, forgetting all that God has done, and is doing, for us.. Moreover, God lets them (and us) know that the pureness, goodness and immediate presence of God would be detrimental to our physical, and spiritual, well-being if we are not on a path of purity.
This reminds me of a Russian priest (I forget his name), who said that when we die, our soul gravitates towards God. And as our souls get close to the Divine, whatever it has about it that is not good and loving begins to disintegrate. This could happen to the point that there is nothing of us left. This journey of our soul could be our destruction, in whole or in part, depending on what we can rid ourselves of now while we have time. This may even explain the innocence of babies and young ones who make it to God. They haven’t had time to be corrupted yet.
So, my beloved in the Lord, we, like the Israelites in the wilderness, are on a journey. Whatever it is that makes our necks stiff, let’s rid ourselves of it now so that when our souls are on its journey home, only a little of it will be lost on the Way. And we didn’t need that part of us anyway.
I have a book of past Russian monks, priests and Bishops whose writings are wonderful and inspire me to live a more prayerful life. This book was given to me by a Russian citizen living here in the United States. However, it seems that the current priests of the Russian Orthodox Church are condoning the Russian leadership in their attack on Ukraine. How sad.
Perhaps the current Russian clergy are a stiff-necked people who are not reading the writings of their predecessors who would not agree with today’s military action against Ukraine. For if God came among them, the Divine pureness of God would consume them and there would be nothing left of them to be present with God in their next life. Let us therefore, listen to, and heed the message of love from God, and loosen our necks.
As we listen to what the Spirit is saying to us, let us live to love, to serve, and to teach, while pondering anew what the Almighty can do. John