Ultimately, we must ask ourselves: “Why am I here?  What is my purpose?”

Despise riches, if you would even have riches.  If you would truly be rich, become poor.  Such are the paradoxes of God.  For God would not have you rich through your own dealings, but [He would have you rich] from His grace.  Leave these things to Me, He says.  Make spiritual things your concern so that you may know My power.  Flee from the yoke of slavery that riches impose.  As long as you hold on to [your riches], you are poor.  When you despise them, you are doubly rich, in that such blessings will flow in to you from every side, and in that you shall not want any of the things that people usually want.  For not to possess much, but to need little, is to be rich indeed.  A king, if he wants nothing, is no different than one who is poor.  For this is poverty, to stand in need of others; and by this argument, the king is poor, in so far as he stands in need of his subjects.  But he that is crucified to the world is not so; he wants for nothing; for his hands are enough for his survival…Raise your eyes to heaven.  Think of the riches there, and smile at gold; think of how little use it is, that the enjoyment of it lasts but for the present life, and that compared with eternity, the present life is a grain of sand, or as a drop of water in the boundless ocean.  This wealth is not a possession, it is not property, it is a loan for use. For when you die, willingly or unwillingly, all that you have goes to others, and they again give it to others, and they to others…Only virtues of the soul are properly our own – like the virtues of charity and almsgiving.” ~St. John Chrysostom from his Homilies on Timothy

Dearest Spiritual ‘Ohana,

As human beings, we must ask ourselves, from time to time, in order to understand, contemplate, and comprehend the ultimate meaning of our lives:  “Why am I here?  What is my purpose?”  St. John Chrysostom, the “Golden Mouth,” through his timeless words of wisdom, guides us to the true perspectives and attitudes we ought to have in life, through his sharing of the paradoxes of God.  What are some of these paradoxes, and what can we do to live these out to our genuine advantage and benefit?

We may think that prosperity and having riches equals happiness and comfort. But, does it really mean this?  No, not necessarily!  It is more our proper attitude toward them and what our focus is with them that is more important.  Where is the focus of their glory placed for each and every one of us?  Are we focused on the things we have merely temporarily for our enjoyment and pleasure or are we focused on the virtues which we will possess, eternally?  The truth is, we came into the world, naked, and we will depart from this world naked.  We will take nothing material from this life when we enter the life to come which is in the realm of eternity.  But, oh, whatever virtue we have possessed and attained in this life, will remain with us forever!  These virtues lie in the stewardship of the gifts and talents we each were given by God, both physical and spiritual in nature.  Like God is a Mystery, in that we can never comprehend His entire depth, so it is with us as humans who are also a mystery which is inexhaustible.  We can never know one another, fully, nor will we ever know ourselves, completely.  Only God knows us and every person who has lived throughout the history of the world, fully, intimately and completely.  The beauty is that we are each unrepeatable in our personhood.  There is no one who can replace the persons we are because we are each uniquely special, and God has a special place and purpose for each one of us.

I know that these times of pandemic are challenging for all of us.  We have been forced to face many unanticipated hardships, socially, spiritually, economically, and in many other aspects of our life.

Despite all these challenges, know that God never abandons us, no matter how hard it gets.  We can be the conduits and instruments of His Love, Hope and Mercy in a world that is hurting and is challenged to the limits.  We are not alone!  We are in these challenges together.  The Heavenly Realms, including Christ, the Theotokos, the Angels, and all the Saints are with us, especially now.  In fact the Holy Fathers still speak to us through what they have said to generations and they continue to ceaselessly pray for us.  They encourage and exhort us to take all our challenges and turn them into opportunities to commune with God.

Despite these difficult times, let us never abandon God and His Church, as many of us may have been tempted to do.  But rather, cling to God and creatively find ways to engage with another in order to strengthen our bonds with our Lord.  One of these ways is to form small groups of 10 or less to keep one another engaged in the Faith.  Stay tuned as we study, develop and implement these connections.

With Love in Christ,

+Fr. Alexander