The Paschal Joy of the Lord
Christ is Risen!
Krishti u Ngjall!
Hristos a Inviat!
Living in the joy of Christ’s victory over death is a central theme during this Paschal season, the 40 days between Jesus’ Resurrection and His Ascension into heaven. In fact, though, living in the joy of the Lord is fundamental to our Christian life each and every day, not only for 40 days.
We are constantly tempted to focus on the negative, on the uncertainties or struggles of life, on the dangers in the world around us, on so much that can pull us down. Yet, we always have a choice to keep our eyes on the Risen Lord. Christ is Risen and is alive, and His victory over evil and death itself is a reason to celebrate and be joyous!
If we choose to open up our hearts and allow the living Christ to live within us, He will fill us with His holy joy. Nehemiah the Prophet said, “The joy of the Lord is my strength.” We can find strength and power in cultivating God’s joy in our hearts and allowing His joy to overwhelm us.
Remember never to allow anything that happens in life or in the world around us make us forget that Christ is Risen, Jesus is alive, and in Him I am alive! He loves me with His divine, unconditional love, and I know that I am His beloved. This is the Good News that fills me with a deep, inner joy. Nothing can take that away.
We need to understand that Christianity without joy is incomprehensible. One of the greatest accusations against Christianity is that some say it is a joyless religion, that Christians don’t have joy – they are too somber, too serious, always concerned about rules and scared about breaking them. For a true believer, though, the absence of joy is a sure sign that one hasn’t truly met the Risen Christ and that one does not have a healthy relationship with him. Jesus Christ is the source of all joy!
Without joy, Christianity is without grace or power; it is ultimately without meaning! It is not Good News, but Bad News – it is hypocrisy at best!
St. Paul exhorts us to “Rejoice in the Lord always… The Lord is near. Have no anxiety about anything, but in everything, by prayer and supplication, let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.” Elsewhere he teaches us to “Rejoice always. Pray without ceasing. Give thanks in all circumstances.”
St. Seraphim of Sarov talked about how the goal of the Christian life is acquisition of the Holy Spirit – to have the Holy Spirit active in our lives! And one of the first fruits of the Holy Spirit is joy, but not a superficial joy that depends on exterior situations – a joy that disappears with each problem, or crisis, or tragedy. NO! Our joy is deeply rooted in our relationship with Christ, in our communion with the Holy Spirit. When we unite with God, nothing can separate us from His joy and love! Even in the midst of problems and challenges, we still have His burning joy in our souls.
One of the beautiful prayers we offer during the Matins of Pascha, and we repeat at every Divine Liturgy, says the following:
Having beheld the Resurrection of Christ, let us worship the holy Lord Jesus, the only sinless One. We venerate Your Cross, O Christ, and we praise and glorify Your Holy Resurrection. Come all faithful, let us venerate the Holy Resurrection of Christ for through the Cross JOY HAS COME INTO ALL THE WORLD. Blessing the Lord always, let us praise His Holy Resurrection for by enduring the Cross for us He has destroyed death by His own death and given life to the world
Maybe that’s a prayer we can make a part of our daily prayers. Each day we wake up, let us say this prayer so that we can remember the “joy that has come into the world.” This joy entered the world through the Cross, a sign of Jesus’ terrible death, and yet it led to Christ’s defeat of Satan and death itself.
Let us walk every day with our victorious Lord, so that His victory of joy will always be ours!
With much joy and love in
our Risen Lord Jesus,
Welcome to our Church
Holy Land Pilgrimage 2019