November 23, 2023

On Giving Thanks To God (St. John Chrysostom)

By St. John Chrysostom

Therefore bearing these things in mind, let us also fulfill all our duties to our neighbor, and to God let us give thanks continually. For it is too unbecoming, enjoying as we do His beneficence every day, to not acknowledge in word the favor; while this acknowledgment also benefits us. Since He needs not anything of ours, nevertheless we stand in need of all things from Him. Thus thanksgiving itself adds nothing to Him, but causes us to be more familiar with Him. 
For if people bring to their memory the benefits they have received, the more the love potion will be warmed up; and much more when we continually bring to mind the accomplishments of our Master towards us, shall we be more diligent in regard of His commandments.

For this cause Paul also said, "Be thankful" (Col. 3:15). For the best preservative of any benefit is the remembrance of the benefit, and a continual thanksgiving.

For this cause even the Dreadful Mysteries, so full of that great salvation, which are celebrated at every gathering, are called a Eucharist, because they are the commemoration of many benefits, and they signify the very sum of God's care for us, and by all means they work upon us to be thankful. For if His being born of a virgin was a great miracle, and the evangelist said in amazement, "now all this was done;" His being also slain, what place shall we find for that? Tell me. I mean, if to be born is called "all this;" to be crucified, and to pour forth His blood, and to give Himself to us for a spiritual feast and banquet — what can that be called? Let us therefore give Him thanks continually, and let this precede both our words and our works.

But let us be thankful not for our own blessings alone, but also for those of others; for in this way we shall be able both to destroy our envy, and to tighten up our love, and make it more genuine. It will not even be possible for you to go on envying them, on behalf of whom you give thanks to the Master.

Wherefore, as you know, the priest also enjoins to give thanks for the world, for the former things, for the things that are now, for what has been done to us before, for what shall befall us hereafter, when that sacrifice is set forth.

For this is the thing both to free us from earth, and to transport us into heaven, and to make us angels instead of men. Because they too form a choir, and give thanks to God for His good things bestowed on us, saying, "Glory to God in the Highest, and on the earth peace among those whom He is pleased" (Lk. 2:14). And what is this to us, that are not of the earth, nor of men? Indeed, it is very much to us, for we have been taught so to love our fellow servants, as even to account their good things ours.

Wherefore Paul also, everywhere in his Epistles, gives thanks for God's accomplishments in the world.

Let us too therefore continually give thanks, on behalf of our own, and for those of others, as well as for the small and for the great. For though the gift be small, it is made great by being God's gift, or rather, there is nothing small that comes from Him, not only because it is bestowed by Him, but also in its very nature.

Excerpt from Homily 26 on the Gospel of Matthew. Translation by John Sanidopoulos.

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