21 June OS 2017: Tuesday of the Fifth Week of St. Matthew; Holy Martyr Julian of Tarsus
In the Gospel today, the Lord proclaims that if we are not with Him, we are against Him:
Then the Pharisees went out, and held a council against him, how they might destroy him. But when Jesus knew it, he withdrew himself from thence: and great multitudes followed him, and he healed them all; And charged them that they should not make him known: Then was brought unto him one possessed with a devil, blind, and dumb: and he healed him, insomuch that the blind and dumb both spake and saw. And all the people were amazed, and said, Is not this the son of David? But when the Pharisees heard it, they said, This fellow doth not cast out devils, but by Beelzebub the prince of the devils. And Jesus knew their thoughts, and said unto them, Every kingdom divided against itself is brought to desolation; and every city or house divided against itself shall not stand: And if Satan cast out Satan, he is divided against himself; how shall then his kingdom stand? And if I by Beelzebub cast out devils, by whom do your children cast them out? therefore they shall be your judges. But if I cast out devils by the Spirit of God, then the kingdom of God is come unto you. Or else how can one enter into a strong man’s house, and spoil his goods, except he first bind the strong man? and then he will spoil his house. He that is not with me is against me; and he that gathereth not with me scattereth abroad. – Matthew 12:14-16, 22-30
St. Theophan the Recluse asks “Who is with the Lord?” and he answers, “He who lives and acts in His spirit; he who allows himself neither thoughts, nor feelings, no desires, nor intentions, nor words, nor deeds which would be displeasing to the Lord and in opposition to His revealed commandments and decrees (Thoughts for Each Day of the Year, p. 138).”
This answer constitutes a call to Christian life as a never ceasing struggle to conform our minds to the mind of Christ. To the extent that we are not constantly uncovering new areas of our thoughts, feelings, and actions which do not conform to the Gospel, to that extent we are in some measure conducting a deluded existence. To that extent, we are “scattered” – the good that we do have is frittered away, because of lack of self-knowledge.
Thus the critical importance of daily Jesus Prayer, daily Scripture reading, and daily examination of conscience, joined to periodic and regular confession and preparation for Holy Communion. With these, trusting in the Lord, we can continually gather our thoughts, feelings, and deeds into one life of devoted sacrifice to Him, and the virtues we gather will not be scattered to the demonic winds which constantly blow outside the tabernacle of a purified heart.