Rejoice Despite Pain and Sorrow


It's difficult to understand rejoicing. It is particularly difficult when you consider that rejoicing can and should be part of our lives under the most difficult circumstances. St. Paul rejoices from prison. Countless martyrs rejoiced even in the midst of enormous fear of losing their lives. Rejoicing is a prayerful choice, made from the fullness of the heart and directed toward the establishment of the Kingdom here on earth. No sound is more abhorrent to Satan; no attitude more provoking; no discipline (save love) more effective in destroying His power over us and those we love.

from a Sermon by Abbot John Eudes Bamberger

St. Paul too points up joy as a fruit of turning wholeheartedly to the Lord. In his list of the fruits of the Spirit only love is mentioned before joy. In today’s second reading he exhorts the Philippians to rejoice in the Lord always. Earlier in this letter he had proposed to all believers to follow Christ who denied himself to fulfill his Father’s will. “Let this mind be in you which was in Christ Jesus, who, being in the form of God… became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross.” Obviously Paul discerns no inherent conflict between joy and self-denial, even to the point of painful suffering. On the contrary, he obviously considers that those who put into practice his teaching on living for others, on putting concern for God’s honor and service ahead of all other considerations, brings a person to a state of mind and heart that is marked by a quiet, abiding joy.

To avoid any misunderstanding Paul adds the reason for our joy: ‘Rejoice always; the Lord is near.’ He is near as our Savior, to bring us a fuller life, the only true life for it is not fated to end with death but to attain its fullness in the presence of the glory of God. On the night of our Lord’s birth the angels will announce to the shepherds “tidings of great joy for to you is born on this day a Savior, Christ the Lord.” This is the name that sums up the meaning of Jesus’ birth, life death and resurrection. He who brings life, the Savior, is near. He comes to share with us all that we are created for. To assure that we receive what he comes to give, he will teach us the ways that lead to life. More, he will strengthen us as we walk those ways, striving for that purity of life that John the Baptist called for. For our experience shows us daily that it is a great achievement to be truly upright, honest and truthful in all our dealings, fair and considerate with all whether they appreciate us or not.

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This page contains a single entry by Steven Riddle published on November 1, 2005 6:57 AM.

Rejoicing in the Lord Here and Now was the previous entry in this blog.

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