July 9, 2023

Reflection on the Fifth Sunday of Matthew (St. Theophan the Recluse)

 Fifth Sunday of Matthew

Matthew 8:28-34; 9:1

By St. Theophan the Recluse

The Gadarenes saw the Lord’s wondrous miracle, when He cast out a legion of devils, and yet, the whole city came out and besought the Lord that He would depart from their coast. We do not observe them being hostile to the Lord, but neither do we observe any faith in them. They are seized with a sort of indeterminate fearfulness, making them to desire only that the Lord pass them by, wherever He wishes, “only do not touch us.”

This is a true image of people who live in peace with their possessions. An order of things has formed around them which is not unfavorable; they are used to it, they have neither thoughts nor the need to change or reverse anything, and they fear to make a new step. They feel, however, that should a command come down from above, the fear of God and their conscience would force them to renounce the old and accept something new. Therefore, they strive to avoid any circumstance which might lead them to such convictions, that they might continue living quietly in their old habits, pleading ignorance. These are the sort of people who are afraid to read the Gospels and patristic books, or to discuss spiritual matters. They fear that if their conscience be thereby disturbed, it might wake up and start forcing them to abandon what they had, and take up something else.

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