Dearly beloved in Christ:
Glory to Jesus Christ!
Forgive my absence again today; I underwent another eye surgery on Friday, and the surgeon forbade me to return to work for a week. (The surgery was to remove the silicon gel from my eye.)
Today (January 27) is the feast of the translation of the relics of St. John Chrysostom. We are blessed to have some of his relics in our parish, which we bring out in procession every Pascha during the singing of his tropar at Paschal Matins. I wanted to speak to you about the words he uttered as he lay dying. You can read them for yourself, for they are written on the ‘west’ wall of the church, under his icon. As you see, he said, “Glory to God for all things!”
St. John’s success had attracted envy in very high and powerful circles, and these powerful men set about to destroy him. He had been lied about, persecuted by bishops, condemned unjustly by church courts, and driven into exile far from his beloved Constantinopolitan flock by the Empress. He appealed to other leaders and bishops in the Church worldwide for justice, but to no avail. When he continued to exert a wide influence even from exile through his letters, he was driven even further out into more remote exile, and forced to travel in winter through terrible lands despite his advanced age and his frail health. Worn out, battered, sick and exhausted, he died far his native lands, disgraced and defeated. And his last words were, “Glory to God for all things!”
I deliberately chose St. John’s icon and his last words for our west wall, because I wanted his last words to be the last thing we see every time we leave the Church and go out into the world. For the world will batter us. It will treat us harshly and unjustly. It will knock us about and bruise us. And when we see evil apparently unjudged and triumphant, it is easy to become discouraged. But St. John Chrysostom and his life urge us to courage. For Christ will turn all that we endure for truth into glory for us. St. John knew well the words of St. Paul, who wrote that nothing—neither death nor life, nor anything else in all creation— will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord. No suffering can separate us from Him, and so in all these things we overwhelmingly conquer through Him who loved us. Whatever the world has in store for us when we leave the Church, we can rely on God’s conquering love and be certain of our final victory. May St. John’s final words, written under his icon, be written over our life: “Glory to God for all things!”
God bless you all.
All my love in the Lord,
Saturday, January 26, 2008
Message from Fr. Lawrence January 27
Dearly beloved in Christ: