To Serve Others

When it comes to preparing to celebrate Christmas, it can be a daunting task. Weeks of Christmas parties and shopping days can lead to serious anxiety, and for what? What happens if tonight our soul is required of us? Those things which we have been preparing, whose will they be? The story of the rich man who tore down his barns to building larger ones, can teach us a lesson. The gifts, resources, talents, and blessings that God has given to us, are not for us to focus on ourselves. They are given to us to serve others.

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Thank you for tuning in to another episode of Be Transfigured, where we invite you to live a new life in Christ. We pray that this episode is a blessing to you and will inspire you to rededicate your life to Jesus Christ. We invite you to join us for worship or study at the Saint Nicholas Greek Orthodox Cathedral in Tarpon Springs, Florida, where visitors are always welcome. We'll be back in a few moments to share some more information about our ministry.

For a couple of weeks now, the Gospel has brought to our attention the concept of love of money as opposed to love of our fellow human beings. A couple of weeks ago, you remember when we spoke about the rich man and Lazarus, it said some rich man had a whole lot of things and he died. Last week, it was a lawyer who couldn't understand how to use his own gifts to help other people. And today again, some rich man is talked about in the Gospel. But in this morning's Gospel, how beautiful that we are beginning our Lenten journey the other day, our preparation for Christmas. This Gospel comes to us as a reminder that life is not about building wealth. Life is not about building a kingdom, a big estate, filling our homes and our bank accounts with an over-abundance.

It does not mean that we're not supposed to work. The Gospel does not say that it's bad to receive financial blessings from the work that we do, but a very interesting understanding and the Gospel is this dilemma of the rich man because he was so successful that he didn't know what to do with all of the things that he had collected.

It says, "What am I supposed to do? I don't have any room to store my crops. I will do this. I will pull down my barns and build greater, and there I will store all my crops and my goods." I think it's interesting here, my brothers and sisters, that it doesn't just talk about the food that he collects. In Greek, it talks about τα αγαθά, the good things that he has.

Well, what are some of the good things that we have? It's not just about wealth and resources, but it's about the blessings that God has given us. It is about the gifts, the χαρίσματα, the spiritual gifts and talents that God has given us. He's given us all of these wonderful things, and unfortunately as the Gospel is explaining to us, we tend to worry only about ourselves. Even if it is a gift that God has given us, even if it is a talent that God has given us, because of our human condition, we tend to use even the talents that God has given us for our own benefit rather than the benefit of other people. And so, this very smart, or so he thought he was, this very smart, rich man. He says, "I'm going to build bigger, and bigger, and bigger barns so I can put all of my things in there. And then I will say to my soul, rest, eat, drink, be merry."

It reminds me of a joke about a Greek cab driver. An American taxi driver went to Greece on vacation, and as we know, there's this thing called Siesta where all the work ends for a while in the afternoon. This one American cab driver goes to the Plataea and he's trying to hail a cab. He sees the cab right there, and the cab driver, where do you think he was? In the cafe relaxing. The American cab driver says, "Hey, I need a ride." He goes, "I'm done for the day. "What are you talking about, done for the day.. It's only one o'clock what do you mean you're done for the day?" He says, "I've made enough money for today. Tomorrow I will drive some more. Go find somebody else," he says.

Now as Americans, we think this is crazy. He says to the cab driver, "Well, if you could work some more, you can get some extra money and you can put it in the bank." He says, "And then what am I going to do?" He says, "Eventually you'll be able to retire." He says, "Oh, and then what am I going to do?" He says, "When you retire, you can sit in the cafe and relax." He says silly boy, that's what I'm doing right now."

We can learn something from this joke. We can realize that we have to live life today, but it doesn't just mean enjoying ourselves. The Gospel story ends, he says, "Fool, all these things you've prepared, whose will they be now? Who is going to benefit from all of the things that we've stored up? You're going to be dead." Saint John Chrysostom tells us that we have this life that we should take the resources that God has given us and use them to help other people to be a blessing to other people.

Now, could you imagine if this farmer had said, "What a huge crop that I had. I have enough in my barns. Let me take the extra and give it to the poor people. Let me take the extra and bring it to the city where there are people begging on the streets." Then he would receive God's blessings. God would have said, "Good and faithful servant. You have been good over some. Take some more now and do greater things for them for the glory of God." And remember the Gospel, my brothers and sisters, is not just speaking about money, but the talents, and the gifts, and the blessings that God has given to us. We live life, not for ourselves, but for the blessings of other people. The fathers of the Church say that the poor exist for the rich and the rich exist for the poor.

Because those of us who have extra, we receive the blessings from God when we use our extra, and we use our gifts, and we use our blessings to assist and help other people. One great way we can do that is the work of the Church. The work of the Church, my brothers and sisters, you could say our cooperative effort to take our gifts, our talents, our resources, and to answer the call of this morning's Gospel, and to reach out, and to help, and to serve other people, not ourselves.

As we continue now on our fasting in our preparation for Christmas, don't fall into the commercial trap. Don't spend all your time at the mall. Open the scriptures, reach out, volunteer some time at a soup kitchen. Call Philoptochos. Bring some of the extra food that we don't need because we're fasting, not spoiled food, not expired food, but good food, bring it to Philoptochos to give to people who are in need. If we can spend these 40 days of Christmas focusing on other people instead of ourselves, then when we reach the celebration of the birth of our Savior, we will receive God's blessings.

These weeks coming can be exhausting if we fall trap to the secular traditions of party, after party, after party, and shopping, after shopping, after shopping. All those things we're going to shop for. If our soul is requested for us tonight, whose will they be? We will be dead. Now is the time for us to use the gifts that God has given us to help and to serve other people for the glory of God.

Have a blessed and fast. Have good strength, but don't lose sight of why we are here, why we have this journey, and that is to prepare ourselves to celebrate with God and His kingdom when he comes so we can welcome Him. Glory to God. For all things.

Be Transfigured is a production of Be Transfigured Ministries in cooperation with the Saint Nicholas Greek Orthodox Cathedral in Tarpon Springs, Florida. We depend upon your generosity to maintain our ministry. You can make a safe online donation when you visit our website,