Thursday, February 22, 2018 (OS February 9): Clean Thursday; Martyr Nicephorus of Antioch in Syria († c. 257); Hieromartyrs Marcellus, Bishop of Syracuse in Sicily; Philagrius, Bishop of Cyprus; and Pancratius Bishop of Tauromenium (1st C); Hieromartyr Peter, Bishop of Damascus Venerable Gennadius († c. 1516) of Vazha Lake; Venerable Nicephorus of Vazha Lake († 1557); Venerable Pancratius, Hieromonk of the Kiev Caves, Far Caves (13th C); Finding of the relics of Holy Hierarch Innocent, Bishop of Irkutsk (1805); New Hieromartyr Priest Basil († 1930); New Hieromartyr Priest John († 1938)
Pride and “haughty looks” wound our communion with God and each other. With only a look I can say to my neighbor “I don’t need you.” Saying this puts me at odds with God Who says at Adam’s creation “It is not good that the man should be alone.”
At that moment, God was preparing to create her who would be “a helper fit for” Adam, Eve. Marriage–and more generally, friendship–flow out of the very nature of what it means to be human. Haughtiness and pride strike at the very foundation then of what it means to be truly human.
It isn’t accidental that pride and haughtiness are associated with idolatry, with worshiping the works of our own hands.Compare idolatry to Adam’s relationship to creation in the first moments of his existence.
After creating the different “beasts of the field and … birds of the air” God brings them before the Adam to receive their name “and whatever the man called every living creature, that was its name.”
While it isn’t fully apparent until Eve receives her name, the names the man gives the animals aren’t arbitrary. They reveal the inner nature, the logos, of that creature. In the beginning, the work of man was revelatory. In the beginning, our work was to make manifest the intention of God embodied in each of His unique creations.
This is why haughtiness, pride and now we can add idolatry, wound our communion. They close us off the inner meaning of creation and from who God has called us, personally, to be.
Haughtiness is the lie that I don’t need the neighbor that I can see; pride that I don’t need the God Who I can’t see (see 1 John 4:20). As for idolatry, this is the lie that would have me find in the works of my own hands a fitting object for worship.
The response to this is Proverbs is clear and direct: Keep the commandments of God and you will have “length of days and years of life and abundant welfare will they give you.” Solomon then goes on to specify what it means to be obedient.
I must be loyal and faithful to God. I must trust in Him and not in myself. I must give glory to God and be humble. I must live sacrificially giving the best of what I have to Him.
All of this requires “discipline,” that is to say the very ascetical struggle and readiness to repent that we practice during the Great Fast.
And with this comes a promise: Do all this, Solomon says, and you will be happy, live a long peaceful life and receive “riches and honor.”
Understanding this last point is crucial. I shouldn’t understand these promises in a materialistic way. Rather, if I pursue wisdom I will discover that I have enough of what I need for the work God to which God has called me.
Even when it is hard and I encounter obstacles, I will find peace in my fidelity to this work, to the vocation to which God has called me.