Fr. Stavros N. Akrotirianakis is the Proistamenos of St. John Greek Orthodox Church in Tampa, FL. Fr. contributes the Prayer Team Ministry, a daily reflection, which began in February 2015, has produced two books, “Let All Creation Rejoice: Reflections on Advent, the Nativity and Epiphany”: “https://amzn.to/2t1rXwh and “The Road Back to Christ: Reflections on Lent, Holy Week and the Resurrection.” https://amzn.to/2WAcfG0
Listen Now. We will now be including the daily reading of Epistle and Gospel with The Prayer Team.
Blessed are you when men revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven. Matthew 5:11-12
Good morning Prayer Team!
Today we conclude the writings on the Beatitudes with the final one. The goal of Christ in giving us the Beatitudes is to help us transform into an icon, an image of Him. If you look at the icons in any church or any home, you will see images of holy people who seem peaceful, joyful and confident. If you look at their physical features, you will see features that are distorted—small mouths, big ears, big eyes, big hands, small heads. This is not because the iconographer did not know how to paint. Rather it is to show us that the way to sainthood is a mouth that speaks little and speaks carefully; ears that are open to hear the cries of our fellow man; eyes that are open to the beauty of God’s creation, hands that are ready to do His work; and small egos (heads) that reflect humility.
Then look at us in modern times—we look stressed, sad, and insecure, rather than peaceful, joyful and confident. We have big mouths, are not good listeners, we keep our eyes on personal prizes, and use our hands primarily for personal gain. We don’t know the meaning of humility because we live in a society that promotes “It’s all about me” as an appropriate attitude.
Society has long been glorifying violence instead of peace, material gain rather than charity, for many years, and sometimes it seems with each passing year we move further and further away from the way Jesus taught us to live. As for the one who promotes peace and charity, he or she is reviled rather than rewarded many a time. The Lord tells us not to worry. Rejoice when ridiculed for staying faithful and doing what is righteous in the eyes of God. Rejoice and be glad, for the reward will be great in heaven.
I read in an inspirational book recently that our lifespan when compared to eternity, is ONE grain of sand on the beach. We become so disappointed when things don’t go our way, feeling that we are falling behind everyone else. That’s because, sadly, most people see the end of life as something to fear, and life is all about getting what we can get, getting as much as you possibly can before life is over. But the true Christian believes that life is a preparation for eternal life and death is the passage from life on earth to life in God’s kingdom. And so setbacks in life, when seen against eternity, can hardly be considered things over which to be sad. After all, life IS temporary. And while we think as a society that everything seems permanent, the only permanent thing we can possibly have is the faith that sustains us through this life in preparation for eternal life.
Lord, thank You for giving us the Beatitudes as clear ways to live our lives in preparation for Eternal Life. Help me to not only understand how to grow closer to You by being a better Christian, but help me also to LIVE out what this means, so that I am not a hearer only but a DO-er. Guide me to become an image that reflects Your glory, an icon. And give me the courage not only to dream this, but to do it.
Rejoice and be glad today!!
With Roger Hunt providing today’s Daily Reading: Listen Now.
These readings are under copyright and is used by permission. All rights reserved. These works may not be further reproduced, in print or on other websites or in any other form, without the prior written authorization of the copyright holder: Reading © Holy Transfiguration Monastery – Brookline, MA, Apolytikion of Abbot Marcellus © Narthex Press, Kontakion of Abbot Marcellus © Holy Transfiguration Monastery – Brookline, MA.
The Revised Standard Version of the Bible is copyrighted 1946, 1952, 1971, and 1973 by the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the U.S.A. and used by permission. From the Online Chapel of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America.
Photo Credit: Loving God Fellowship
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