By H.G. Bishop Tadros Bishop of Port Said
“Behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy which will be to all people.” (Luke 2:10)
During the birth of Lord Jesus, we often hear about words of joy accompanying the birth of our Lord Jesus Christ. We hear the angels proclaiming to the shepherds: “‘Behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy which will be to all people.'” Then the heavenly hosts echoed: “‘Glory to God in the highest, And on earth peace, goodwill toward men!'” (Luke 2:14)
The time has come when enmity between man and God has been removed, and reconciliation between heaven and earth has been achieved. God has begun to fulfill the redemption plan devised since eternity to reopen paradise for those who love Him and whom He loves.
Therefore, we should rejoice in our hearts at the coming of the glorious Lord to us. He descended and accepted to take on our flesh to redeem us in the great journey of redemption He completed on the cross.
Is every joy acceptable to the Lord?
There are two types of joy: accepted joy and rejected joy.
Rejected joy (Unholy joy):
How abundant are the illusory, transient happiness and joy that the world and the devil offer to people! It’s a tainted happiness and false joy that quickly evaporates, turning into misery and sadness. The joy the world offers swiftly fades away, yet many forget that there is no true joy and happiness away from God.
The rejected joy belongs to the world. Those who seek joy in material matters and worldly pleasures encounter failure and fall into despair as they lose their way, distancing themselves from true joy.
The devil aims to distract humans from true joy and the joy in Christ. He diverts attention towards materialism, desires (lust of the body and eyes, and the grandeur of living), and life distractions. Consequently, humans wander and lose their eternity. This was the plight of the prodigal son, seeking joy and happiness far from the father’s house, only to ultimately taste the bitterness of humiliation and misery. Such is the story of many humans.
Holy joy is joy according to God’s will and God’s plan. It differs entirely from the joy of the world and the joy of the devil.
- a) Joy of repentance:
The person living in sin, upon confessing to our Lord, exits with joy. Heaven rejoices with the joy of the heavenly Father for every person who repents and returns. The joy is indescribable.
- b) Joy in doing good:
“Come, you blessed of My Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world: for I was hungry and you gave Me food; I was thirsty and you gave Me drink; I was a stranger and you took Me in; I was naked and you clothed Me; I was sick and you visited Me; I was in prison and you came to Me.” (Matthew 25:35-40)
The joyful soul in the Lord expresses joy by doing good with the needy and poor. It’s remarkably astonishing that the Lord Jesus spoke of joy in giving rather than joy in receiving: “It is more blessed to give than to receive.” (Acts 20:35)
In the world, humans find joy in acquiring material things, pleasures, and luxuries. However, true spiritual joy lies in giving. Christianity has completely turned the world’s standards upside down, declaring that joy lies in giving.
- c) Joy in tribulations:
“Count it all joy when you fall into various trials.” (James 1:2). Any trials allowed by the Lord mean there is a cross on earth and a crown in heaven. Hence, the saints and martyrs willingly embraced martyrdom with joy to offer their lives.
The hallmark of Christianity is joy. Beware of imitating the ways of the world, losing your true joy in difficulties and problems, remembering the words of the glorious Lord: “In the world you will have tribulation, but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world.” (John 16:33)
“And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God.” (Romans 8:28)
How does the Holy Joy that pleases our Lord bring happiness?
When the angel declares, “‘Behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy.'” (Luke 2:10), it tells us that the children of God should rejoice in the spiritual joy that pleases God. Rejoice in doing good, rejoice in repentance, rejoice in communion, rejoice in reading the Gospel, rejoice in living according to God’s will, for this is what will bring you joy.
Continuously ask yourself if the joy you’re experiencing is the joy that pleases God! And if the answer is no, do not partake in it no matter the cost.
Instead, turn back and rejoice in our Lord, and rejoice in true joy.
Rejoice when doing good deeds.
Rejoice when returning to the embrace of Christ through repentance.
Rejoice when confessing and repenting and approaching the sacrament of communion, feeling Christ within your heart.
We want to experience the holy joy according to God’s will, for the angel announced on the glorious Christmas day, “For there is born to you this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.” (Luke 2:11), who came to save humanity from its sins. Let us rejoice because the Lord incarnated seeking redemption and to gladden our hearts: “And no one will take your joy away from you.”
We aim to learn enduring joy, where our hearts rejoice from within, and God’s heart rejoices in repentance, forsaking sin, persevering in the means of grace, and partaking of the Lord’s body and blood.
We pray to God that all your days may be filled with joy, experiencing the holy spiritual joy according to God’s will: the joy of repentance, the joy of communion, the joy of reading the Gospel, the joy of fasting, the joy of prayer, the joy of sacred worship, the joy of giving, the joy of loving others, for this is the true joy. To our eternal glorious Lord, forever and ever. Amen.”