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Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Now the tax collectors and sinners were all drawing near to hear him. And the Pharisees and the scribes murmured, saying, ‘This man receives sinners and eats with them.’ So he told them this parable: ‘What man of you, having a hundred sheep, if he has lost one of them, does not leave the ninety-nine in the wilderness, and go after the one which is lost, until he finds it? And when he has found it, he lays it on his shoulders, rejoicing… Or what woman, having ten silver coins, if she loses one coin, does not light a lamp and sweep the house and seek diligently until she finds it? And when she has found it, she calls together her friends and neighbors, saying, ‘Rejoice with me, for I have found the coin which I had lost.’ Just so, I tell you, there is joy before the angels of God over one s...

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

For what thanksgiving can we render to God for you, for all the joy which we feel for your sake before our God, praying earnestly night and day that we may see you face to face and supply what is lacking in your faith? Now may our God and Father himself, and our Lord Jesus, direct our way to you; and may the Lord make you increase and abound in love to one another and to all people, as we do to you, so that he may establish your hearts unblamable in holiness before our God and Father, at the coming of our Lord Jesus with all his saints.” (1 Thess 3: 9-13)

I love how St. Paul is so full of “joy,” that he doesn’t even know “what thanksgiving” he can render to God, – for these Thessalonians, still “lacking” in their faith. He “abounds in love” for them, knowing that they are not perfect. He h...

Tuesday, November 7, 2017

And you became imitators (μιμηταὶ) of us and of the Lord, for you received the word in much affliction, with joy inspired by the Holy Spirit; so that you became an example to all the believers in Macedonia and in Achaia. For not only has the word of the Lord sounded forth from you in Macedonia and Achaia, but your faith in God has gone forth everywhere, so that we need not say anything.” (1 Thess 1: 6-8)

Interestingly, that’s how God’s “word“ planted in us seems to grow, and to be particularly fruitful: “in much affliction“ and “with joy inspired by the Holy Spirit.“ When I stay close to God’s word, and focus on His voice in my life, then these two go hand-in-hand. I mean, “affliction“ and “joy.“ From a Christ-less perspective, that doesn’t make much “sense,“ but that’s the way things work...

Monday, August 22, 2016

James, a servant of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ, To the twelve tribes in the Dispersion: Greeting. Count it all joy, my brethren, when you meet various trials (πειρασμοῖς, temptations), knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience (ὑπομονήν). And let patience (ὑπομονὴ) have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.” (James 1: 1-4)

Why does the Apostle James remind me of the obvious in my cross-carrying journey, – to “count it all joy,” including the discomfort of “trials” or “temptations”? Because I may tend to choose other paths, other responses to my trials, like self-pity and resentment. But these paths are fruitless, as well as blind. Both self-pity and resentment are blind to the hidden gift in my innermost discomforts: They signalize...

Thursday, August 18, 2016

Truly, truly, I say to you, you will weep and lament, but the world will rejoice; you will be sorrowful, but your sorrow will turn into joy. When a woman is in travail she has sorrow, because her hour has come; but when she is delivered of the child, she no longer remembers the anguish, for joy that a child is born into the world. So you have sorrow now, but I will see you again and your hearts will rejoice, and no one will take your joy from you.” (Jn 16: 20-22)

A life in Christ, a cross-carrying life, involves “sorrow”; the kind of sorrow a woman experiences when giving birth. “Because her hour has come.” Thus it happens with us, whenever our “hour” comes and we go through some kind of crisis: In faith, we emerge from it with new wisdom, new life, and “joy.” Not of the fleeting kind, wit...

Saturday, April 16, 2016

 

The Archangel was sent from Heaven to cry 'Rejoice!' to the Theotokos. And beholding You, O Lord, taking bodily form, he stood in awe, and with his bodiless voice he cried aloud to her such things as these: Rejoice, you through whom joy shall shine forth…” (Akathist to the Theotokos, Ikos 1)

 

Joy indeed. So much joy shines forth on this Saturday, as we rejoice in the beauty of the Most-Holy Mother of God. And all this one week before Her Son enters Jerusalem, to begin His final journey of suffering and death, through which She accompanies Him, as a sword pierces Her soul (Lk 2: 35). It is not an earthly “happiness” we are celebrating today, as we sing about “joy,” but rather the light and lightness of the Cross.

 

Today I rejoice, in gratitude, in the light and strength of Her motherly love...

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