Memento mori

5 November OS 2016 – Friday of the Seventh Week of St. Luke; Holy Martyrs Galaction and Episteme

Today’s Gospel reading is Luke 12:2-12.

The Lord said to His disciples: There is nothing covered, that shall not be revealed; neither hid, that shall not be known. Therefore whatsoever ye have spoken in darkness shall be heard in the light; and that which ye have spoken in the ear in closets shall be proclaimed upon the housetops. And I say unto you my friends, Be not afraid of them that kill the body, and after that have no more that they can do. But I will forewarn you whom ye shall fear: Fear him, which after he hath killed hath power to cast into hell; yea, I say unto you, Fear him. Are not five sparrows sold for two farthings, and not one of them is forgotten before God? But even the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Fear not therefore: ye are of more value than many sparrows. Also I say unto you, Whosoever shall confess me before men, him shall the Son of man also confess before the angels of God: But he that denieth me before men shall be denied before the angels of God. And whosoever shall speak a word against the Son of man, it shall be forgiven him: but unto him that blasphemeth against the Holy Ghost it shall not be forgiven. And when they bring you unto the synagogues, and unto magistrates, and powers, take ye no thought how or what thing ye shall answer, or what ye shall say: For the Holy Ghost shall teach you in the same hour what ye ought to say.

 St. Theophan the Recluse, commenting on the Lord’s words concerning whom we should fear, says this:

…The greatest fear we have is of death. But the Lord says that the fear of God should exceed the fear of death. When circumstances come together in such a way that it is necessary either to lose one’s life or to act against what is suggested by the fear of God, it is better to die rather than to go against the fear of God. For if you go against the fear of God, then after your bodily death, which is in any case inevitable, you will meet another death which is immeasurable worse than all of the mot terrible bodily death. If we always bore this in mind, the fear of God would not weaken in us, and we would perform no deeds contrary to the fear of God… – Thoughts for Each Day of the Year, p. 246

Death, heaven, hell, and God’s judgment are not popular topics today.   Everyone is obsessed with this world, with remaining in it as long as possible, and making it as comfortable as possible.   They have forgotten that this is a fool’s errand: No matter what you do to avoid it, death will some day overtake you. The real question is not how to avoid death but how to prepare for the inevitable.   Since death is the one thing we know, without a doubt, that is going to happen to us, using this life to prepare for it is the most realistic approach to life.

The Lord tells us, today, what is the basis for a life that prepares us for death: to fear God.   The fear of God means not an animal fear, agitating us to run away from God, to hide from Him, because He is going to do something bad to us. It is rather a reverent fear, a deeply-felt desire never to do anything displeasing to Him, never to disobey His holy will, coupled with a lively apprehension that we can, indeed, lose ourselves for all eternity, that we can, indeed, inherit eternal torment after death.

Each day we need to remind ourselves, “I will die for certain!” and ask the Lord, “O Lord, this day enable me to live according to Thy holy will!”


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