St Seraphima: Love of Labor, Labor of Love

In the Name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, one God. Amen. Dear beloved, we remember the Holy Virgin Martyr Seraphima of Antioch in the 2nd century.

The holy virgin Saint Seraphima was born in Antioch, and lived in Rome during the reign of the emperor Hadrian. The saint was arrested during the persecution of Christians by Hadrian during this period, and gave up her life defending the faith. Saint Seraphima, pray for us.

As we tread the path of life, especially with increasing hours of toil at work, we frequently wonder, if this life is all about hard work and nothing else? Would work consume us that we find life mundane and meaningless? What then, is the meaning of work and labor in relation to life?

As we reflect on Ecclesiastes 9, we are told to labor hard and well, for God ordained us as living beings, to breathe, to eat, and to work. We are told to do all our labors with our might, that is, our strength and the fullness of our thinking. Because, when we die, there is no more work in the grave. Yet, we were also instructed, that besides the hard work we do, we are to accept and eat our food and drink with joy, for God feeds us after our hard labors. For if God feeds all His creatures large and small, He is especially merciful to us too.

In Psalm 3, we are reminded that God sustains us when we sleep and wake up. For every breathing moment is a moment belonging to God, and a moment God intends that we remember and walk with Him. The Psalmist cries out to God to save him, even as enemies of tens of thousands set their march against him, because God holds the only keys to justice, and that salvation to any being belongs only to God. Therefore, do not be afraid in calamity, whether in daily journeys, or especially at work, for God sustains His people who labor hard and well.

Therefore, let us remember when we work, love our labors.

While we toil the daily labors at work, let us remember the instructions of our Lord and Christ Jesus, in St Matthew 20:17-28, where we are told as servants and children of God, our ministry to the world is to be servants of people. Therefore, while we labor for the sake of others, let us remember that foremost, it is not about benefits, it is not about recognition, from those whom we serve, nor those who observe us. It is simply out of love that we labor for the sake of others.

In the Epistles of St Paul to the Corinthians, the Holy Apostle reminded us that it is not about how many words we speak, but how effective those words are. He would rather speak 5 words than 10,000 words, if the 5 words can help others more effectively. Likewise, in our labors for the benefit of others, let us remember we can often do a lot more in fewer words and more hands-on works for others, than a flourishing of thousands of words with nothing to benefit others.

Therefore, let us remember while we are serving others, let those be a labor of love.

Beloved, every moment, every breath, every labor, and every fruit, is ordained by God. Let us always, while we labor, let us love our labors. And let us always remind ourselves, while we serve others in need, let us labor in love. Let us always keep the Holy Name of our Lord close as we labor and serve, “Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner”.

Let us close by praying the thanksgiving prayer:

It is truly meet to call thee blest, the Theotokos, ever blessed and most pure, and the Mother of our God. More honorable than the Cherubim, and more glorious than the Seraphim, without corruption thou gavest birth to God the Word: True Theotokos, we magnify thee.

O virgin Theotokos, rejoice; O Mary full of grace, the Lord is with thee. Blessed art thou among women, and blessed is the fruit of thy womb, for thou hast borne the Savior of our souls, Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Fr Raphael+

Ecclesiastes 9:7-10
Psalm 3:5-8
St Matthew 20:17-28
1 Corinthians 14:6-19