Many times, I think about St. Theophan’s reflection on the Ten lepers and simply, remembering to say “Thank You” – thank you to God for the blessings received each and every day. When we talk about Time, Talents and Treasures, consider all of the ways you can impact your Stewardship by extending a simple thank you – to God, your Bishop, your Priest, your family, your neighbors… God blesses us with many opportunities daily!
Ten lepers were healed, but only one came to thank the Lord. Isn’t there generally a similar proportion of people who are grateful after receiving benefactions from the Lord? Who has not received good things; or, rather, what do we have in us, or what ever happens to us that is not good for us? Even so, is everyone grateful to God, and does everyone give thanks for everything? There are even those who permit themselves to ask, “Why did God give us existence? It would be better for us not to exist.” God gave you existence so that you would be in eternal bliss; He gave you existence as a gift, as a gift He has furnished you with every means for attaining eternal bliss. The job depends on you: you need only to labour a bit for this. You say, “But I have only sorrows, poverty, diseases, misfortunes.” Well, these are also some of the ways to attain eternal bliss. Be patient. Your entire life is less than a moment compared with eternity. Even if you had to suffer unceasingly your entire life, against eternity it is nothing; and you still have moments of consolation. Do not look at the present, but at what is prepared for you in the future, and concern yourself with making yourself worthy of that; then you will not notice the sorrows. They will all be swallowed up by unquestioning hope in eternal consolations, and your lips will never cease to utter thanks.
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Christ Is Born!
May God bless you during this Nativity season.
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To the man who asked how to be saved, the Lord on his part offered a question: What is written in the law? how readest thou? By this He showed that to resolve all perplexity one must turn to the word of God. And so that there will not be such perplexity at all it is best to always read Divine Scripture attentively, with discernment and sympathy, applying it to your own life, and fulfilling in your own thoughts what relates to thoughts, in your own feelings and dispositions what relates to the senses, and in your deeds what relates to deeds. One who hearkens to the word of God gathers bright understanding of all that is in him, what is near to him, and what is above him; he clarifies his obligations in all aspects of life, and holy rules, like valuable pearls, are strung onto the thread of his conscience, which then precisely and definitely indicate how and when to act so that he please the Lord. He tames the passions—something reading the word of God always acts to assuage. No matter what passion troubles you, begin to read the word of God and the passion will become quieter and quieter, and at last it will be entirely calmed. He who enriches himself through knowledge of the word of God is overshadowed by the pillar of cloud which guided the Israelites in the desert.
St. Theophan the Recluse
You have seen, O lawyer, and it has been proved by the parable, that it is of no avail whatsoever to any man, to be set up by empty names, and to pride himself upon unmeaning and ridiculous titles, so long as the excellence of deeds does not accompany them. For the dignity of the priesthood is unavailing to its owners, and equally so is the being called learned in the law, to those who are so reputed, unless they excel also in deeds. For lo! a crown of love is being twined for him who loves his neighbor: and he proves to be a Samaritan.
St. Cyril of Alexandria
In Luke 16:1-9, this parable is about the denounced unjust steward. Do you see how he managed to disentangle himself from his misfortune! If only we would all manage to arrange for ourselves a peaceful life upon our departure from this life! But no: Children of this world are in their generation wiser than the children of light. Why did the steward go to such pains? Because disaster was near. The nearness of misfortune aroused energy and quick-wittedness, and he quickly settled everything. But is our misfortune not near? Death could overtake us at any moment, and then: give an account of thy stewardship. Everyone knows this, but almost nobody moves. What is this insanity? Nobody thinks he will die right now, but all suppose that they will live another day or two; they don’t know the time, only that death will come sometime later. This is why misfortune is seen as something in the future. Misfortune is ahead, and any thought about what to do in case of misfortune is put off. Nobody thinks to remain incorrigible his entire life, but he simply puts off changing for the present day. But since one’s entire life is composed of present days and hours, any concern for change just does not come.
St. Theophan the Recluse
And whereas the Samaritan, seeing a wounded man, unknown, and not at all appertaining to him, both staid, and set him on a beast, and brought him home to the inn, and hired a physician, and gave some money, and promised more: you, seeing one fallen not among thieves, but among a band of demons, and beset by anger; and this not in a wilderness, but in the midst of the forum; not having to lay out money, nor to hire a beast, nor to bring him on a long way, but only to say some words:— are you slow to do it? And holdest back, and hurriest by cruelly and unmercifully? And how do you think, calling upon God, ever to find Him propitious? St. John Chrysostom
This Christmas season – do the unthinkable – exercise the unexpected – reach out to someone who would never anticipate it – act like the Samaritan!
Do not lay up for yourself, treasures on earth…But lay up for yourself treasures in Heaven…For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. (Matt 6:19-21)
Are you living for Heaven or for all that is here on this earth? Do you believe in working towards your personal Salvation or working towards becoming wealthy? Do you focus on supporting the ministries within the Church or supporting those items which bring earthly pleasure. These are very difficult and tough questions for each and every one of us. Having all the things that you feel are necessary is not wrong but their pursuit is distorting from the one thing which alone is needful – our Salvation!
The recommended cure for this illness is poverty or simplicity of life. The more we focus on the Heavenly, and less on the earthly, the closer we become to God. In summary, one must focus on how he or she will stand before the Dread Judgment Seat of Christ – especially since we are held accountable for how we use everything we have, since it is provided by God.