JOY AND GLADNESS

My beloved spiritual brothers and sisters in Christ God,

CHRIST IS IN OUR MIDST! HE WAS, IS, AND EVER SHALL BE.

JOY AND GLADNESS

"Fill our hearts with joy and gladness." The Divine Eucharist is a joyous celebration, and we cannot over-emphasize its joyous character. We thank and praise God for having freed us from corruption and death and for having granted us life without end in His heavenly Kingdom. Truly Christ has vanquished death. DEATH NO LONGER EXISTS. WE HAVE BEEN REDEEMED. A LIFE WITHOUT END AWAITS US AFTER THIS SHORT LIFE. We partake of the Lord with joyous hearts, as the first Christians did: "BREAKING BREAD IN THEIR HOMES, THEY PARTOOK OF FOOD WITH GLAD AND GENEROUS HEARTS (Acts 2:46). Celebrating the divine Eucharist on the tomb of a martyr on the anniversary of his or her entrance into the Kingdom was a joyous occasion. As we have read, the writer of the Martyrdom of Saint Polycarp prays that "the Lord will permit us to gather ourselves together (synagomenois), as we are able, in gladness and joy to celebrate the BIRTH-DAY OF HIS MARTYRDOM.

Christ has fulfilled ALL (passan) the dispensation (Oikonomia) of the Father. Our offering was accepted by God because IT FULFILLED THE DIVINE PLAN OF SALVATION KATA PANTA, "IN EVERYTHING." Now it is for us to enjoy in huble thanksgiving and gratitude the fruits of the salvation that Christ obtained for us: "Let us BE GLAD and REJOICE in His salvation" (Isaiah 25:9). THIS IS HIS PLEDGE: "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… So you have sorrow now, bu I will see you again and your hearts will REJOICE and no one will take your joy from you" (John 16:20-22). Let us quote the words of the Resurrection Sermon of Saint John Chrysostom one more time "Let everyone enter into the JOY of our Lord… The table is full, indulge yourselves supmtuously. The calf is ample, let no one go away hungy. Let all enjoy THE BANQUET OF FAITH."

The Divine Eucharist is not only a memorial sacrifice; IT IS A COMMEMORATION OF ALL THE SALVIFIC EVENTS, INCLUDING THE LORD’S GLORIOUS RESURRECTION FROM THE DEAD, HIS ASCENSION INTO HEAVEN, AND HIS SITTING IN GLORY AT THE RIGHT HAND OF THE FATHER. ALL IS ACCOMPLISHED. We praise and glorify the Triune God, especially after having partaken of the Sacred Mysteries. Christ IS ETERNALLY RISEN, NO LONGER TO DIE AGAIN: "For we know the Christs being raised from the dead WILL NEVER DIE AGAIN; DEATH HAS NO LONGER DOMINION OVER HIM" (Romans 6:9). Christ IS THE FIRST FRUITS of the New Creation (1 Corinthians 15:20). His Resurrection stands as a pledge and foundation of Christian hope. Let us lift up our droopy hands (see Hebrews 12:12) and minds: "LET US LIFT UP OUR HEARTS" ("Ανω σχώμεν τάς καρδίας"), if indeed we have them lifted to the Lord, "Let us be grateful for receiving a Kingdom that cannot be shaken" (Hebrews 12:28).

The JOYOUS character of the Eucharistic meal AS A FORETASTE OF THE MYSTICAL HEAVENLY REPAST THAT WILL TAKE PLACE IN HEAVEN, SHOULD BE PRESENT WHENEVER (osakis, every time (1 Corinthians 11:25-26) we gather together to celebrate the Divine Mysteries. Let us ask ourselves: do we display THE INNER GREAT JOY–REAL EXULTATION (AGALIASIS, a word carrying eschatological overtones) — and simplicity of heart of the first Christians (Acts 2:46)? Do we eagerly anticipate to enter "the JOY of the Lord (Matthew 25:21-23)? Do we long to sit at the table with the Lord in His Kingdom, as much as He does (Luke 22:16-18)? Although we should always BE AWARE OF OUR SINFULNESS AND SHOULD STRUGGLE TO ERADICATE SIN FROM OUR LIVES, WE SHOULD NEVER LET OUR SINS OPPRESS US AND DEPRESS US; WE SHOULD NEVER LET A PREOCCUPATION WHETHER WE ARE "WORTHY" TO PARTAKE OF THE CUP OF SALVATION ROB AWAY FROM US OUR JOY IN THE LORD, Who loved us and gave Himself FOR US (cf. Galatians 2:20).

The sacrificial character of the Divine Eucharist should not be an occasion of gloominess and sadness, BUT A CAUSE OF JOY, GRATITUDE AND THANKSGIVING. The Orthodox Church does not dwell on Divine Eucharit as a propitiatory sacrifice, but AS A FORETASTE OF THE ETERNAL ENJOYMENT IN HEAVEN AND AS A PARTICIPATION OF THE GOOD THINGS GOD FATHER HAS PREPARED FOR THOSE WHO LOVE HIM: "You have prepared a table before me, in the presence of those who afflict me… and your cup inebriates me with the best wine" (Psalm 22[23]:5). For it is written. ‘What no eye has seen, nor ear heard, nor the heart of man conceived, what God has prepared for those who love Him" (1 Corinthians 2:9). And to the Thessalonians he says, "Rejoys always" (1 Thessalonians 5:16), as he does to the Philippians, "REJOYS in the Lord always" (Philippians 4:4). We are to take these persistent "always" to their full value.

God created man so that he may REJOICE in the material and spiritual gifts granted to him through Jesus Christ , by the energy of the Holy Spirit. In the words of Saint Maximos the Confessor: "God, full beyond all fulness, brought creatures into being not because He had need of anything, but SO THAT THEY MIGHT PARTICIPATE IN Him IN PROPORTION TO THEIR CAPACITY AND THAT HE HIMSELF REJOICE IN His WORKS (cf. Psalm 103 [104]:31, through seeing them JOYFUL and ever filled to overflowing WITH HIS INEXHAUSTIBLE GIFTS." (Source: The Heavenly Banquet. Understanding the Divine Liturgy by Fr. Emmanuel Hatzidakis)

___________________

"Glory Be To GOD
For
All Things!"

– Saint John Chrysostomos

+ + +

With sincere agape in His Holy Diakonia (Ministry)
The sinner and unworthy servant of God

+ Father George

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