November 25 - Daily Thoughts from St. Theophan, One of Russia's Favorite 19th Century Writers

"Are you sure to live through this year? Maybe next year, maybe earlier. How do you know that you are not living the last month, day, or hour of your earthly life?"

Originally appeared at: Global Orthodox

Editor's Note: Saint Theophan the Recluse (1815-1894) was one of the most prolific and beloved spiritual writers of 19th-century Russia. His works comprise over twenty volumes. Although he lived the last twenty-eight years of his life as a hermit, his impact on his homeland was immense. His articles appeared in the popular spiritual journals of his time, his books were in great demand, and he personally replied to an average of thirty letters daily. We will be publishing excerpts from Thoughts for Each Day of the Year (Amazon). In it, St. Theophan takes us through the yearly cycle of Gospel and Epistle readings, humbly and reverently offering us brief but powerful daily meditations on the word of God. He also addresses the problems of his day: lack of faith, coldness of heart, trust in the rational mind rather than in the revealed Truth of God - which are problems of our day as well.

Thursday, 23rd week after Pentecost
Epistle reading: 1 Thessalonians 2:9-14
Gospel reading: Luke 13:1-9

When Will the Axe Strike?

People told Jesus about “the Galilaeans, whose blood Pilate had mingled with their sacrifices,” and He replied: “Except ye repent, ye shall all likewise perish.” The  tower in Siloam fell and slew eighteen men, and again He said: “Except ye repent, ye shall all likewise perish” [Luke 13:1-5]. This is a clear instruction for us: when a trouble befalls someone else, rather than seeking a reason why and for which particular sin that has happened, we must promptly look at ourselves and examine whether we are guilty of a sin worth the punishment like that one. And if the answer is positive, make sure to blot out our sin through repentance.

Repentance sets us free from our sins and removes the reason for the impending trouble. As long as man is involved in sin, the axe is laid unto the root of the tree of his life [Matthew 3:10], ready to cut it down, though not actually cutting, expecting his repentance. If you repent full-heartedly, the axe will be withdrawn, and your life will go ahead, returning to its normal course; if you don’t ─ then get ready for the axe to strike.

Are you sure to live through this year? The Parable of the fruitless fig tree [Luke 13:6] shows how willing the Savior is to spare each and every sinner in the hope that he repents and brings forth good fruits. The Lord, however, is not only merciful, but also just, and His justice could require an action at any moment. Maybe next year, maybe earlier. How do you know that you are not living the last month, day, or hour of your earthly life?

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