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Thoughts for the Week
 
 

 

Fourth Sunday after Easter

Thoughts for the Week - Fr R Taouk 
18th May 2014

St. Basil on Joy and Sorrow in the Spiritual Life

The soul which is possessed of the desire for its Creator and which has grown accustomed to delighting in His divine presence and beauty will never lose that ineffable delight in the midst of such carnal desires; on the contrary, he will find more delight and happiness in these things which torment others. Thus lived the Apostle; who, rejoicing in the midst of his infirmities, sickness, persecutions and calamities, considered poverty to be a glory (2 Cor 12).

The valiant athlete, once he has stripped for the fight in the arena of his religion, should suffer with courage the blows which he will receive from his enemies, safe in the hope of the glory of his prize. All who, in the course of the games, have accustomed themselves to the fatigue of the struggle never lose heart because of the pain of the blows they receive; on the contrary, the desire for victory triumphs over their present ills and they attack their enemy closely. In the same way the just man, even though he be attacked by some evil, never loses his joy, because: affliction gives rise to endurance and endurance gives proof of our faith, and a proved faith gives grounds for hope (Rom 5:4). For the same reason St. Paul urges us to be patient in time of tribulation and to rejoice with hope (Rom 12). It is hope then which renders our joy stable in the hearts of those who are proved in virtue.

The apostle also tells us that we must weep with them that weep, and again he himself wept for the enemies of the cross of Christ. Nor is it really necessary to mention the case of Jeremias . . . Jesus himself wept over Jerusalem and at the tomb of Lazarus; he also said that those who mourn are blessed. How can this be reconciled with the command that we should rejoice always?

We reply by saying that the lamentations and tears of the saints come from the love of God. They have their eyes always fixed on the Beloved, finding in Him their greatest joy; therefore they attend to the affairs of their brethren, weeping for them when they sin and reproving and correcting them with their tears. But just as those who stand on the shore and worry about those who are drowning do not thereby lose their sense of security, so those who weep for the sins of their neighbour do not lose their own joy. Rather this is increased at the thought that their very tears make them more worthy of the joy of the Lord. Therefore those who are sad are also happy and those who mourn are blessed, because they shall receive consolation and their very sorrow shall be turned into joy.

"O Lord grant that I may rejoice in Thee always!"