August 29, 2023

Reflection on the Beheading of Saint John the Baptist (St. Theophan the Recluse)

By St. Theophan the Recluse

A rumor about the works of the Lord reached Herod; he immediately concluded: it was John who had risen. You never know what you could think of! And yet he thought of no one but John. Who gave this direction to his thoughts? Conscience. You cannot hide unscrupulous deeds from her, nothing can correct her judgment. By beheading John, Herod arrogated to himself the right to do so, and others did not deny such a right, but conscience spoke its own, and he could not drown out its speeches with anything. So he sees John.

How many such tales do we know that the conscience pursues the sinner and depicts to him the object and deed of sin in such a way that he sees them even on the outside! Therefore, there is a voice in us that we must recognize as not our voice. Whose? God's. From Whom our nature is, from that is the voice. If she is God's, then we must listen, for the creature does not dare contradict the Creator. This voice says that there is a God, that we are completely dependent on Him, and therefore we cannot but nurture in ourselves the reverent fear of God; having it, we must fulfill the will of God, which conscience indicates. All this constitutes the word of God, written in our nature, and offered to us, and we see that people of all times and all countries hear this word and heed it.

Everywhere they believe in God, everywhere they listen to conscience and look forward to a future life. It is only now that it has somehow become fashionable not to recognize these truths. This is what naturalists do, in Russian - natural scientists. This means that natural scientists preach an unnatural doctrine.

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