Vanity over clothing is taking on a particular momentum in our time. He who has nothing else of which to be proud, becomes proud of his attire. Yet he who has something more costly than clothes of which to be proud, does not become proud. Just as gold is not found on the surface of the earth, so it is that the spiritual worth of a man does not show outwardly.
It is said that a certain distinguished philosopher saw a young man who took pride in his clothing. He approached the young man and whispered in his ear: "The same fleece was previously worn by a ram; nevertheless, he was still a ram!"
To be a Christian and to display pride in clothing is more insane that to be an emperor and to be proud of the dust under one's feet. While St. Arsenius wore clothes of gold in the royal court, no one called him Great. He was called Great only when he unselfishly gave himself over to God - and dressed in rags.
On contentment with that which is most necessary to us
"Having food and raiment let us be therewith content." (1 Tim. 6:8)
The apostles of God taught others that which they themselves filled in their own lives. When they had food and clothing, they were content. Even when it happened that they had neither food nor clothing, they were content, for their contentment did not emanate from the outside but from within. Their contentment was not so cheap as the contentment of an animal, but costly - more costly and more rare. Inward contentment, the contentment of peace and love of God in the heart - that is the contentment of greater men, and that was the apostolic contentment.
In great battles, generals are dressed and fed as ordinary soldiers: they do not seek contentment in food or in clothes but in victory. Victory is the primary contentment of those who battle. Brethren, Christians are constantly in battle - in battle for the victory of the spirit over the material, in battle for the victory of the higher over the lower, and in battle for the victory of man over his beastly nature. Is it not, therefore, absurd to engage in battle and concern oneself not with victory but with external decorations and ornaments? Is it not foolish to give one's enemies the marks of identification?
Our visible enemy, Satan, rejoices at our vanity and supports us in every vain thought. The invisible enemy occupies us with every possible unreasonable pettiness and idleness, not only to impose upon our minds the heavy forgetfulness of that for which we are here on earth. The invisible enemy presents to us the worthless as important, the irrelevant as essential, and the detrimental as beneficial, only in order to achieve victory over us and to destroy us forever.
O Lord, Holy, Mighty and Immortal, Who created us from the mud and breathed the living soul into mud; do not, O Lord, allow the mud to overcome us! Help our spirit, that it always be stronger than the earth.
To Thee be glory and praise forever. Amen.
The Prologue of Ohrid, Vol. I
10 January, Reflection & Homily