17 February OS 2018: Friday of the Second Week of Lent; S. Theodore the Recruit, Great Martyr
The first reading at Vespers today is Genesis 5:32-6:8.
And the LORD God saw that the wickedness of men was multiplied upon the earth, and that every one in his heart thinketh intently upon evil all the days. And God laid it to heart that He had made man on the earth, and He thought upon it. And God said, ‘I will blot out man whom I have made from the face of the earth, even man with cattle and creeping things with fowls of the heaven, for it repenteth Me that I have made them’. But Noah found grace before the LORD God. (Genesis 6:5-8)
“But Noah found Grace before the LORD God.” So it is always. In every generation, despite the great wickedness of men, the Lord’s chosen dwell in the midst. The Lord Jesus Himself, in His High Priestly Prayer to the Father in John 17, says to the Father that His disciples are not of the world and yet also that He does not ask the Father to take them out of the world. The Apostle of Love says, “Little children, love not the world (I John 2:15),” and yet we know from his Life that he spent his entire apostleship dwelling among men, even the very worst men.
How can we do this in our time, in our circumstances? For the devil tempts us either to join the world and love it or to be resentful and curse it. How do we love fallen men yet not imitate them? How can we love men so much that we are willing to be hated by them when we live according to Truth and speak this Truth when confronted? There are several things we can do:
- Remember that only the grace of God can enable us to do this. It is a life above nature. Only by living in the Spirit can we be like Noah, patiently building the Ark while everyone around us is laughing at us or even cursing us. We must pray and insistently beg God for this grace.
- We need to read the Lives of the Saints and be inspired by their courage joined to meekness. We need to remember that we are not alone, that there is a vast Church in the heavens cheering our every step in the right direction. We must ask them to intercede for us.
- We must remain close to the Church. By living in the fragrant atmosphere of Her divine services, Her divine life, and staying close to our spiritual friends, we remain encouraged and in our right minds: encouraged, because the grace of the services and prayers fills our hearts with joy, and in our right minds, because within the sacred cosmos of the Church everything makes sense.
May the Holy Patriarch Noah, our common ancestor, intercede for us to stay happy and faithful in the midst of so much unhappiness and unfaithfulness all around us. He stayed the course, and God preserved him in the midst of global destruction. God shall certainly do no less for us.