Today we celebrate the memory of Saint Luke. As Father Alexander Schmemann noted in For the Life of the World, Luke’s gospel begins and ends with joy. At Christ’s birth the angel says, “Be not afraid; for behold, I bring you news of great joy…” (Luke 2:10). And after the Ascension, the disciples “returned to Jerusalem with great joy, and were continually in the temple blessing God” (Luke 24:53).
Joy permeated the life of the first disciples, even—especially—in the face of trials and afflictions. St Luke was a colleague and friend of St Paul (he refers to him as “the beloved physician, Colossian 4:14), and joy is a likewise a constant theme in Paul’s letters. Writing from prison (from prison) to the Philippians he says today, “Finally, my brethren, rejoice in the Lord. To write the same things to you is not irksome to me and is safe for you” (Phil 3:1). His joy overflows repeatedly in this letter. He makes his prayers with joy (1:4), he desires their “progress and joy in the faith” (1:25), their unity of mind will “complete my joy” (2:2). In the face of impending death, “I am glad and rejoice with you all” and he hopes they will “be glad and rejoice with me” (2:17,18). He sends his friend Epaphroditus to them, “that you may rejoice at seeing him again” (2:28) and asks them “to receive him in the Lord with all joy” (2:29). And in case they didn’t get the message he says, “Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, Rejoice” (4:4).
Joy accompanies Paul wherever he goes, and whatever anyone else thinks of him and the disciples—impostors, punished, unknown, hopeless, sorrowful, poor, having nothing—Paul himself knows that inwardly they are “always rejoicing… making many rich… and possessing everything” (2 Cor 6:10).
May God grant us that same joy.
I left home before 7:00 am yesterday to participate in a church court all day, so there was no time to write for the Chancellor’s Diary. The Statutes of the OCA provide for church courts to consider fairly any charges against clergy or laity (see http://oca.org/statute/article-xi).
In other news, Archimandrite Alexander (Pihach) of Saint Herman’s Church, Edmonton, Alberta, the Chancellor of the Archdiocese of Canada, was blessed by the Holy Synod to make a pastoral visit to the OCA’s representation church in Moscow, Saint Catherine’s. He arrived in Moscow yesterday and will report back to the Holy Synod at the All-American Council in Parma. He was met at the Moscow airport by OCA Archivist, Alexis Liberovsky, who is also in Moscow right now for a two-week advanced course on church archives, sponsored by the Russian Orthodox Church.