Illegitimi non carborundum

The title for my Daily Cup today is a mock-Latin phrase which has often been translated: “Don’t let the bastards grind you down.”  In reading the Gospel passage assigned for today’s Office of Morning Prayer, one could very easily have whispered this phrase into the ear of the man cured by Jesus.


The man had been ill for 38 years, which apparently made it difficult for him to walk.  Let that sink in a minute…for THIRTY-EIGHT YEARS the man was unable to walk properly.  Jesus cures him and tells him to stand up and carry his mat and walk.  The man does so.  Of COURSE Jesus cures the man on the sabbath.  And, of COURSE the first thing the “illegitimi” can do is say to the man, “It is the sabbath; it is not lawful for you to carry your mat.” (John 5:10b).  Really?  Seriously?  THAT’S the response to the man who hasn’t been able to walk for 38 years?  The scene is almost comical…almost–except for the fact it is tragic.


While I don’t believe in New Year’s resolutions (mostly because I can’t keep them past oh, the 10th of January), I do think that every now and again examining our life to see where we can make slight changes or modifications to how we act in the world, or in our own life is a good thing.


Take a minute and think about this:  are you more like the people who come up to the cured man and only have to say, “why are you breaking the law?  You KNOW you shouldn’t….”  Or, in general, do you think your first reaction might be one of shock–not at the broken law–but joy-filled shock that someone after 38 years is finally walking?


attitudeMy guess is that most of us will think that we’d be in the latter camp and not the former.  But, I’d also wager a guess that we’ve been like the crowd that accosts the cured man more times than we first imagined.   I’ll admit that I am all for laws and rules, but I am also for–maybe even more so–finding and recognizing the joy that happens around us all the time.  Joy in the little things like the unexpected scent of pine the first day that the Christmas tree is put up; the beauty of moss; the precision of Bach’s Brandenburg Concerti; the unmistakable sound of Crayon hitting wooden pew in a moment of silence in church; the smile of happiness on someone who has just completed a difficult task.  The list is endless, and so should our joy be.


Where are we like those who are so bent on upholding what is “right” that we miss the miracle and joy right in our midst?  May we be seekers and finders of joy this new year.


With a joyful heart,





About matthewhanisian

Associate Rector at St. Alban's Episcopal Church, Washington, D.C.
This entry was posted in The Rev. Matthew R. Hanisian and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

5 Responses to Illegitimi non carborundum

  1. Eileen says:

    Brilliant! Thank you for this perspective this morning when we need to be able to rejoice in the few victories justice and kindness have made……….though few they are this morning…….

  2. I’ve been sick for thirty eight years. I don’t know joy but I know Jesus. He’s cruel.

  3. In fact as I see it, when OUR LORD comes back He will make a big stew of the world of blood and fire and come tramping through on the agonized bodies in big horned feet, with all the angels shouting hideously and the martyrs with fanged bosoms, hissing and waving mammoth torture instruments.

  4. I love God but I conceive of Him sort of like Goya’s Cyclopean monster. I guess to have my head bitten off by him would be an interesting experience. Jesus I see looking at the world with an expression of extreme distaste. That is the Orthodox view. Yeah, but after hospital and hospital and hospital, it does become the granite face of Christ. He cracked for my writing. But only because I prostrated myself before the altar in St. Sophia and promised I would write only according to His will.

  5. you think I am a little puling child calling God cruel. Look at the hagiographies: St. Catherine of Siena wanted to torture and slaughter Muslims in the Holy Land; St. John of the Cross asked for increased pain levels in his body when he lay dying; St. Therese of Lisieux declared that love of Christ was to live a joyless life.

    I am no child. I don’t mind it. I’ll love Jesus through pain. But I will also call it like it is. Cruel.

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