Lenten Meditations: Week Four

The Office of Communications of the Diocese of the Midwest is pleased to announce that we will be offering weekly reflections during this holy season by our Diocesan Chancellor, Archpriest Paul Jannakos. These brief meditations can provide an Orthodox Christian with assistance in seeking more time with God in silence and stillness. 


“And they that entered, male and female of all flesh, went in as God had commanded him; and the LORD shut them in.” (Gen. 7:16).

Noah did his part. He was faithful to the covenant. When the floodwaters rose, it was the Lord Himself Who sealed Noah, his family, and his flock into the ark. In the ark the Lord preserved everything that was good, beautiful, pure and holy. Every evil thing that remained upon the earth perished in the deep. Like Noah, the Lord preserves all those from harm who trust in Him. He guards them from evil.

The Lord Himself shut the door to Noah’s ark.
Have you been sealed by God’s goodness?


“I have given you all things.” (Gen. 9:3).

The Lord gave Noah everything – plants, animals, fish, fowl – all is gifted from above. Henceforth, there will be two kinds of humans upon the earth, those who grasp on to the world as their very own in order to do with as they like, and those who receive it with thanksgiving and tend to it with care. The first is the way of Cain who held back what didn’t belong to him. The second is the way of Abel who knew how to give thanks.

You live at the receiving end of God’s bounty.
How often do you give Him thanks?


“And Ham saw the nakedness of his father and told his two brothers outside.” (Gen 9:22).

Noah’s son Ham saw his father’s nakedness. He could have kept silent. Instead he declared his father’s sin to his brothers, and for this he was condemned. Like Ham, many people love to air out the faults of their neighbors. They see their brother stumble and scoff at him out loud. This distracts them from ever knowing how sinful and broken they are.

Self-righteousness feeds on the faults of others.
Do you talk about your neighbors’ sins?


“Come, let us build ourselves a city, and a tower whose top is in the heavens.”  (Gen. 11:4).

The original Tower of Babel lies in ruins on the plains of ancient Mesopotamia. But this was not to be the last. Men continue to build themselves towers by which they seek to rival the divine. None is more reckless than the tower of the intellect. The human mind is a marvelous gift from God. But when the intellect is no longer illumined by the grace of the Holy Spirit, it becomes the plaything of demons.

The mind must humble itself to the heart.
Do you know the difference between intelligence and wisdom?


“Now the Lord had said to Abram: ‘Get out of your country from your family and from your father’s house.’” (Gen 12:1).

The Lord speaks to everyone. Not everyone hears. Abram heard the Lord’s word and was obedient. He did not doubt what he heard. Nor did he hesitate. The Lord called him out of his country and his father’s house in order to be a sojourner in a foreign land. And so he went. The redemption of the human race begins with Abram’s renunciation of the world.

God’s people forsake the world of men and their idols.
In what biblical land do you dwell?


“And taking him aside from the multitude privately, He put his fingers into his ears, and He spat and touched his tongue; and looking up to heaven, and said to him, ‘Ephphatha,’ that is, ‘Be opened.’”  (Mark 7:33, 34).

Adam and Eve closed themselves off from God. They turned their minds from the light to the darkness. Darkness became their abode. The Lord has entered into our darkness in order to open us once again to Himself. He touches our ears so that we can hear His saving words. He touches our tongue so that we might praise Him for His wonders. He touches our eyes so that we can see Him in everyone and everything that exists.

Unbelief hardens the human heart.
Do you know the touch of Christ?


“And His disciples asked Him privately, ‘Why could we not cast it out?’ And He said, ‘This kind cannot be driven out by anything but prayer and fasting.’” (Mark 9:28, 29). 

The demons rage in many ways – emotionally, spiritually, mentally, physically. In our fallen state we remain at the mercy of the demons, which is no mercy at all. But by fasting and prayer, we learn two things: first that we are incapable of fighting the demons ourselves, and second, that the Lord will save us from the screaming demons in our lives. The demons howl as they are being driven away. We need not listen to them nor be afraid.

The closer we move to God, the louder the demons shriek. 
Do you pray and fast?


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