“I was glad when they said unto me, Let us go into the house of the Lord.”
As we are anxiously waiting for the time when we will, again, be able to come together as a church community, I greet you, my beloved, with these words of King David, The words of longing but also great assurance.
It is obvious and definitely felt, that each and every one of us can’t wait to run to the house of God – our church, the place where the beauty and glory of our God dwells. This desire is common and jointly felt by, both, the young and the old, male and the female, by the clergy and laity… But until then, dear brothers and sisters, instead of excessive worry, fear, and any other unproductive emotions and spiritual and/or psychological states, we recommend – REJOICE!
Let us rejoice because with this commandment The Gospel (good news) begins – when the Archangel Gabriel exclaimed to the Virgin Mary to “rejoice” because she will give birth to the incarnate God, our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.
Let us rejoice because our Redeemer and Lord many times exclaimed to us “do not worry”, which basically means that, regardless of the circumstances, we must preserve courage and the joy of life.
It is more than interesting that the message “rejoice” is found 365 times in the Holy Bible as if it is meant for every day of the year.
Let us rejoice, for apostle Paul joyfully exclaims:
“Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice!” Philippians 4:4
And finally let us always rejoice because our Lord, heading to his voluntary humiliation, suffering, crucifixion, and death on the cross, says to his disciples, and through them to all of us:
“These things I have spoken to you, that My joy may remain in you, and that your joy may be full.” (John 15:11)
Let us never forget that Joy and (unconditional) Love are two realities by which Christians are confirmed and recognized.
Thus, instead of our outcry\resentment for having to spend more time at our homes, let us rejoice for having a home.
Let us give thanks to God for giving us the time which was so much needed in order to spend more of it with each other and our children.
Patriarch Pavle of blessed memory once said:
“There are many poor children in our nation, whose parents aside from money give them nothing.”
We are blessed for having each other, and now is the time/opportunity to see and recognize one another, and through kindness, co-suffering and love confirm our faith with our deeds, and thereby become an icon (image) of Christ and Hos hollies to one another, thus iconizing His love and care for the humankind.
The Saints of our church are a perfect example of that.
So, instead of approaching the pandemic from a “professional” perspective and or analyzing the professionals, and even worse in some cases – giving our attention to those who don’t mean well, let us focus on that which our Lord established us in, and focus on that which the world so much needs and depends on, and which we, who bear the name of our Lord, are called and expected to do:
Loving-kindness, True Christ-centered humanitarian works, virtue, contrition, truth, patience, humility…
“Those who have been baptized into Christ have put on Christ alleluia” – a hymn from our baptism.
This is the way to turn things around, and for our benefit (and the benefit of others) use the reality we are in – especially regarding the church attendance.
Now the question is, what about the Eucharist? – that which we miss most and need most – the holy communion, The body and blood of Christ which unites us with HIM and each other, the food for our soul, the medicine for our mind and body, the fountain of immortality…
The answer even to this question we, first of all, find in the psalms of David, wherein the 50th psalm (a psalm of repentance) he turns to the Lord and says:
“For You do not desire a sacrifice, or else I would give it; You do not delight in burnt offering. The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit, A broken and a contrite heart—These, O God, You will not despise.”
This message is powerful and sobering, especially when we understand that at the time of King David there was no greater expression of worship and piety than to offer burnt offerings onto God.
This, of course, does not mean that anything under the sun could replace the Eucharistic gathering ( not even altruistic acts and virtuous living), and the partaking of The One Cup – expressing the reality of our unity in the Lord and a foretaste of the kingdom of heaven.
This does remind us, however, That we are all called to be priests (in our own homes and hearts) who on the altars of our hearts offer up sacrifices in the virtues above mentioned. And these sacrifices God will not despise.
With this said, first of all relying on the mercy of our Great God and His loving kindness towards mankind, especially to those suffering and those taking care of them, but also praying to Him to inspire the work of those who, through their scientific research wage war with this virus, we greet you with the most joyous and resounding greeting in the history of mankind and the universe: Christ is risen – rejoice! and again I say rejoice!
By Priest Predrag Bojovic
(Barely modified and translated by priest Dragan Petrovic)
If we affix the eyes of our hearts to the kingdom of heaven, then we will always rejoice:
– when it’s good and when it’s bad
– when is happy and when it’s sad
– when it’s sickness and when it’s health
– when its poverty and when its wealth
Rejoice for this life is short, but the kingdom of heaven is a reality from which we will not abort.