Resources‎ > ‎Past messages‎ > ‎

2013-03-31 message

posted Apr 4, 2013, 3:22 PM by St. John's Webmaster

I have been speaking about joy for the last couple of weeks, first in the context of fasting, then in the context of repentance. Today, I would like to look at this joy and see what it is and where it comes from.

In the U.S. we are familiar with the rights to “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.” In Orthodoxy we might rewrite the last part as the pursuit of holiness. The difference is enormous and it is rooted in the words of Christ: “seek first [God’s] kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things [food, drink, clothing] will be given to you as well” (Matt. 6:33). It is in seeking the kingdom that we find joy and happiness.

When we turn things around and pursue happiness, we find that it tends to escape us. And so we intensify our pursuit and keep looking for it in every single place hoping against hope that we will find it somehow, somewhere. The problem is that often, along the way, we fall prey to an illusion of happiness. We can fool ourselves that we find rest in alcohol, communion in sex, fulfillment in unending work and quantifiable achievements. We thirst for rest, and communion, and fulfillment, so, in the absence of the real thing, it is easy to try and see these things in places where they are present only in part, or even not at all.

The problem with doing that is that, as much as we may think we have found what we are looking for, we have not. Our souls understand that and therefore we look for more and more of that same thing, because our longings are not satisfied. We keep irrationally hoping that just that little bit more will be the thing that brings us to that point of satisfaction. Of course, that does not happen. And then, our desires become passions, we become their slaves, and our path to the kingdom becomes that much steeper of a climb.

So where do we find the things that we are looking for? “Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest” (Matt. 11:28) – Christ is our true rest. “As the Father loved Me, I also have loved you; abide in My love” (Jn. 15:9) and “He who eats My flesh and drinks My blood abides in Me, and I in him” (Jn. 6:56) – true communion is in Christ. “Those whom You gave Me I have kept; and none of them is lost except the son of perdition, that the Scripture might be fulfilled. But now I come to You, and these things I speak in the world, that they may have My joy fulfilled in themselves” (Jn. 17:12-13) – in Christ we find our fulfillment and that fulfillment is one of joy. He is the way, the truth, and the life.

May we always follow Him on the way to salvation, may we remain faithful to the truth that He is and He revealed to us, and may we have His life in us for in this we find the joy that truly satisfies our deepest desires.

With love in Christ,
+Fr. Peter