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ON SUFFERING


 


 

REJOICE

"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 track.  

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 Phil."

 

 



(01-03-04)

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