Giving Thanks to God

“Let us give thanks to God continually.  For, it is outrageous that when we enjoy His benefaction to us in deed every single day, we do not acknowledge the favor with so much as a word; and this, when the acknowledgment confers great benefit on us.  He does not need anything of ours, but we stand in need of all things from Him.

In point of fact, thanksgiving adds nothing to Him.  For if, when we recall the benefactions of men, we are the more warmed by affection for them; much more, when we continually bring to mind the benefits of the Master towards us, shall we be more earnest with regard to His commandments.

For this cause Paul also said, ‘Be thankful.’  For the best preservative of any benefaction is the remembrance of the benefaction, and a continual thanksgiving for it.” ~St. John Chrysostom

Dearest Spiritual Ohana,

In this Season, as should be with every season and time in our life, we ought to feel compelled to offer thanks to God, at all times, for everything!  St. John Chrysostom (the “Golden Mouth” as his name means) articulates what all this means, most excellently.

God’s benefaction/goodness is what we are called to acknowledge every moment of our lives.  What exactly do we acknowledge?  We acknowledge His Immense Greatness in His boundless Love, Mercy and Glory.  He has benefited all  of humanity in such countless ways!  For He created us in His Image and Likeness, with the built-in sense of longing for communion and fulfillment through Him alone.  He loves us to the extremist of measures by so humbling Himself by taking on our human flesh, and never ceasing to do everything to bring us to Heaven.  He took on death so that He would conquer it through His Resurrection.  He constantly awaits our response to Him, as He beckons us:  “Behold, I stand at the door and knock:  if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with Me.” (Revelation 3:20)

The beauty and the challenge for us is that we have free will to heed God’s Presence or to deny It from being in our lives.  We have the opportunity, ever before us in each present moment, to benefit from having His Presence bring true joy and fulfillment played out in our lives.  The challenge before us is to seize the ever-present moments to allow the Lord to have in-roads into our personal lives.

Of course, there are challenges in our daily lives to open the doors of our hearts for the Lord to enter in.  But let us take these challenges and allow them to be opportunities.  Let us learn to cultivate a culture in our lives of “thankfulness” to God as we respond to Him in His great generosity to us, even though He does not need anything from us.

The challenges we face in our lives are related to what we prioritize in them.  Our first priority ought to be centering our lives around God, Who is the Source of Life and brought us all into being in the first place.  The ever-present challenge is for us to focus on everything else, and to leave God out of our focus and priority.

Now that we are entering into the Holiday (Holy Day) Season, we face challenges to where our focus is.  With Thanksgiving, we can focus all our attention on games, lots of food and partying.  But we can also remember and ponder upon our thanksgiving to God and all the blessings that He has so richly bestowed on us.  Which comes first for us?  Same comes when we celebrate Christmas.  Will we be wrapped up in the shopping, decorating or what we are going to prepare for eating during the Christmas Holiday Season, or will we focus on Christ’s Birth and what that means for us?

Fortunately, for us, we have the Nativity Fast that begins amidst the start of the Holiday Season, which begins on November 15th, and ends on December 24th.  This affords us the opportunity to focus on the Glory of our Lord’s Nativity, so that when we break the Fast, on December 25th, we can celebrate the Incarnation and be thankful in glorifying Christ for Who He is/ought to be for us.

Being thankful, especially to God, is a vital part of our lives, if we want to truly be joyful and fulfilled.  Let us therefore glorify and give thanks to Him, everyday of our lives!

I wish all of you a very Blessed Holiday Season!

With Love in Christ,

+Fr. Alexander