In the Name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, one God. Amen. Dear beloved, we commemorate the Conception of our Most Holy Theotokos by St Anna, as well as commemorate St Stephen of Constantinople. May St Anna, and St Stephen the New Light of Constantinople, pray for us.
St Stephen, known as New Light, was from Constantinople (modern Turkey), was well educated. He received monastic tonsure under Patriarch Methodios and later went into seclusion for 50 years as an ascetic. Near the end of his life, St Stephen received great grace from God and shone with illumination that he came to be known as New Radiant, or New Light. He reposed in 912 AD.
What is wealth?
To many who are spiritually weak, or having strayed from the Truth, they will think of wealth as merely material. Many heretics and pagans would also affirm wealth as merely that of accumulating worldly belongings, amassing huge properties, mountains of gold, and gleaming collectibles.
However, what is spiritual wealth?
As we reflect on Proverbs 10:2-5, we know that if we accumulate wealth by wickedness and by depriving others of their share, we will gain nothing. If we abide by our Lord’s Truth, He will not forsake us. And we are not to be lazy, for we are to labor, and labor hard, without wickedness. And Proverbs 13:18 added that we are to be disciplined, and stand ready to be corrected. And then, through the grace of God, we may through His mercy, gather a rightful harvest.
From the Epistles, as we reflect upon 1 Timothy 6:17-21, we know that we have a duty to educate the materially wealthy not to be prideful, for material wealth can fade away, and can also erode the soul of a person. We are to admonish and encourage the materially wealthy to do good works, to feed the poor (Leviticus 23:22), and so that they may at least have the possibility of partaking in the reconciliation with God. Likewise, we are to admonish and encourage the well educated not to fall prey to material knowledge, but to learn and pray on the Truth of God, for worldly knowledge profits no one.
In the Church, we do not indulge in predicting or dwelling on the so-called “end of times”, for we do not know when such a time will come. But the Church Fathers, all the saints before us, taught us to simply repent and pray often, such that every day is a day of our labors unto God, and that we are working towards reconciling with God as we labor along. We cannot be lazy or complacent, and think that we have plenty of time, for whether it may be the “end of times”, or the sudden end of our lives, we may not have plenty of time, or any time left at all. As we reflect on Luke 21:28-33, we simply know that the Kingdom of God is near, and that the eternal Truth of the Gospel will be with us, and we just pray like little children, and pray often. In between our worldly labors, in between our rest, in between our meals, and even during every waking moment as we progress spiritually, these are all moments of prayer.
As we march towards the Nativity, let us pray His Holy Name. “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.
1 Timothy 6:17-21