Fr Thomas Hopko: Are You Seeking First the Kingdom of God?

Feast of St Catherine the Great Martyr of Alexandria

Herman_Square.jpegAMERICAN Christianity desperately needs the witness of Saint Herman of Alaska, for the American way of life is so radically opposed in so many ways to the life of this man and the Lord Jesus whom he served. Power, possessions, profits, pleasures: these are the things that Americans are known for. These are the things in which we take pride. And, sadly enough, these are also the things that many of us are taught to value by our “religious leaders,” both by their words and their examples. But this way is not the way of the Lord Jesus Christ. And it is not the way of His saints.

Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust consume and where thieves break in and steal, but lay up for yourselves treasure in heaven, where neither moth nor rust consumes and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also. . . . No one can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and mammon. Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you shall eat or what you shall drink, nor about your body, what you shall put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? . . . Therefore do not be anxious, saying, “What shall we eat?” or “What shall we drink?” or “What shall we wear?” For the Gentiles seek all these things; and your heavenly Father knows that you need them all. But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things shall be yours as well.  –Matthew 6.19-21, 24-25, 31-33

By American standards, Saint Herman, like the Lord Jesus Himself, was a miserable failure. He made no name for himself. He was not in the public eye. He wielded no power. He owned no property. He had few possessions, if any at all. He had no worldly prestige. He played no role in human affairs. He partook of no carnal pleasures. He made no money. He died in obscurity among outcast people. Yet today, more than a hundred years after his death, his icon is venerated in thousands of churches and his name is honored by millions of people whom he is still trying to teach to seek the kingdom of God and its righteousness which has been brought to the world by the King who was born in a cavern and killed on a cross. The example of this man is crucial to the celebration of Christmas—especially in America.

—Fr Thomas Hopko, The Winter Pascha

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