Marcus Aurelius, a Roman Emperor and Stoic philosopher in the second century AD, wrote his third book of meditations at the fortress of Carnuntum on the Danube. You can still visit the ruins of the fort today. I feel sorry for Aurelius who spent much of his nineteen-year reign fighting Rome’s many frontier enemies. Yet, in spite of that, he is known as one of Rome’s five good emperors. The goodness of this Stoic, warrior man comes through his many reflections on the purpose of this life, which he sums up as three things; to do what’s right, to serve others, and to love God. He writes, for example:
Wash yourself clean. With simplicity, with humility,
with indifference to everything except right and wrong.
Care for other human beings. Follow God.
And in another meditation;
To move from one unselfish action to another with God in mind.
I find it quite remarkable that this “pagan” philosopher in antiquity arrived at much the same conclusions as the preacher in Ecclesiastes, as Christ in the Gospels, and Paul in the Epistles. And today, in a year of pandemic, we, too, can find truth and goodness in focusing on doing what is right, in caring for other human beings, and in loving God.
May God, who speaks to us all when we listen, bless you this week as we continue to journey through Lent.
Photo by Matthias Zomer from Pexels
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