Giving thanks to God is the base of receiving his…
A homily of His Beatitude John the Xth
in the church of the Dormition of the Lady- Balamand.
In the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit, Amen.
The fragment that we heard today from the Gospel highlights an essential aspect of Man’s life, and the rapport between him and God.
The ten lepers, who came to Lord Jesus, asked him saying: “Master, have mercy on us!”, and as they went they were cleansed. Only one of them, who was Samaritan, turned back glorifying the name of God with a loud voice. He thanked the Lord Jesus, and fell down on his face at His feet. The Lord said: “Were there not ten cleansed? but where are the nine? There are not found that returned to give glory to God, save this stranger”.
The relation between God and Man has many aspects:
- One of these aspects is fear, when we deal with God as a judge who seeks to punish us. That is the reason why we do what we do and what He asks us to do, because we are afraid of His punishment and judgment.
- The second aspect, when we deal with God, consciously or unconsciously, as the One that fulfills our needs, as a servant for our needs. So, we pray for Him, asking Him to give us from His blessings and to resolve our problems. But sometimes we become skeptical, when we ask for something and do not get a response. So, we ask ourselves: Why are we praying? What is the use of my prayer? I am praying and lighting candles, but all in vain. I wonder whether God listens to me or not? Does God exists?... This is what I meant when I described our relationship with God saying that He is a servant for our needs and requests.
Only one of the ten lepers turned back glorifying God and giving thanks to the Lord. So thanksgivings, praise, glorifying God, are another important aspect in Man’s life and his relationship with God. And in the Gospel we have uncountable examples that show the importance of praising and glorifying God and giving thanks to him.
In our prayers, in the psalms and the hymns that we repeat every day, for how many times do we repeat in our prayers: “Glory to the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit”…? How many times do we repeat: “Praise ye the LORD. O give thanks unto the LORD; for he is good”.
You all remember the miracle of increasing the loaves and the fishes, the Gospel says: He “gave thanks, and brake them, and gave to his disciples, and the disciples to the multitude”. At the Last Supper, when He sat with His disciples eating with them, and establishing the sacrament of the Holy Eucharist, the Gospel says: “he took bread, and gave thanks, and brake it, and gave unto them”. The Divine Liturgy that we are officiating now is called, in theological terms, the Sacrament of thanksgiving, or Eucharist which is a word with Greek origins, used in all languages as a theological term that means thanksgiving.
You will observe in few minutes, in the Holy Anaphora, that we present the sacrifices (the bread and the wine) so that the Holy Spirit descends on them, transforming them into the body and the blood of our Lord, so we say: “Mercy and peace, a sacrifice of praise”, a sacrifice of thanksgiving and glorifying.
The priest stands at the Royal Door addressing the believers and saying what we call today the “Eucharistic Dialogue”: “The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God the Father, and the communion of the Holy Spirit, be with all of you”. People say: “and with your spirit”. The priest says: “Let us lift up our hearts.” We answer: “We lift them up to the Lord”. The priest continues: “Let us give thanks to the Lord”. While people say: “it is proper and right” the priest continues: “It is proper and right to sing to You, bless You, praise You, thank You…”
So, we can learn how to give thanks by watching the life of Jesus Christ, in the Holy Gospel, in the Divine Liturgy and every day. This expresses the state of heart humbleness in the relation between God and Man. So:
- The first form of giving thanks has been shown by the nine lepers who, after getting healed, turned their backs and left.
- The second form of giving thanks has been expressed by the only leper who got back when he realized God’s Grace. That is why he fell down on his face to the Lord giving thanks to Him.
- The third form is when Man gives thanks to God, not only when he receives a gift from Him, but giving thanks to Him always, in tribulation and in rest, in happiness and in sadness, Because “for whether we live, we live unto the Lord; and whether we die, we die unto the Lord”. In this way the whole man’s life changes into a movement of praise, glorifying and thanksgiving.
Herein, I remember what our Holy Fathers said, when they described Man’s spiritual life, according to his relationship with God in three stages: the first stage is the stage of the servant, the second is the stage of the hired and finally the stage of the son. At the stage of the servant, he does what his master orders him to do, out of fear of the punishment. As for the hired, he does what he does asking for the price. As for the son, he does his master’s order because he is his father and he loves him. He is the son and the heir in the house, nor out of fear neither asking for a price, only because he is the son.
We all are called to have humble hearts, so that Lord may dwell inside us. This is how we change, moving from one stage to another, till we become new as we heard today in the epistle, in the image of our Creator. Only then we can say “Glory to the God for everything”, just like Saint John Chrysostom, the great Antiochian and the teacher of the world who died in the exile.
May God gives us the strength to cry with Saint John, from a heart wounded with the love of God, giving thanks to Him and saying: “Glory to the God for everything”, Amen.
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