"Rejoice," not with
condemnable laughter, i.e. the laughter of this world which arises from
things which are present. For Christ has commanded us . . . "to
mourn." Our part in this world is to mourn for our sins and the sins of
others. Our duty to mourn is irreconcilable with worldy laughter. But
mourning for sins is not contrary to spiritual rejoicing; in fact, spiritual
joy comes from mourning. "For he who grieves for his own faults and
confesses them rejoices." It is possible, therefore, to grieve for our
sins and yet rejoice in Christ.
The Philippians were suffering .
. . "For to you is given not only to believe in Him but also to suffer
for Him." That is why St. Paul tells them, "Rejoice in the
Lord." Your way to God is not being hindered; you are on the right
Because you are in God, you
should rejoice, even when afflicted and in suffering. "They returned
from the courts rejoicing that they were worthy to be dragged for His name's
sake." If to be imprisoned for Christ brings us joy, what else can
bring us grief?
"Again, rejoice," . .
. for the Philippians were suffering twice more for Christ's sake; the
Philippians were being persecuted and harassed by those "whose god is
their belly," by those "whose glory is their shame" and by
those whose minds are completely on earthly things.
The Philippians, being a holy
community, would certainly be at enmity with the wicked. So, St. Paul
commanded that they have nothing in common with them but to use their
persecution to develop the virtue of forbearance.
Do your enemies plot against
you? Do they rise against you? Are they living in luxury? "In nothing,
be anxious." "The Lord is at hand," i.e. soon these things
shall be reversed. "And I shall be with you always even unto the
end of the world" . . . this will be your first consolation.
A second source of consolation,
the medicine that heals grief, distress and all that is painful is Prayer
with Thanksgiving in all things. We must not merely ask and ask; but also be
thankful for what we have. For he has no right to ask for the future who
is not thankful for the past. All men ask; but only a grateful soul
gives thanks for unpleasant gifts. If you pray with an ungrateful soul, God
will not hear you.
And what is your reward for
being grateful? "The peace of God. . . shall guard your hearts
and your thoughts."
St. John Chrysostom, "On