The Joy of All Who Sorrow Orthodox Christian Church in Indianapolis recently celebrated its Feast Day. We appreciated very much the following encouraging letter from Metropolitan Joseph, otherwise known as our Bishop:
Beloved Fr. John, Fathers, Brothers and Sisters in the Lord,
I greet you for your decision to celebrate our Church Name Day Joy of All Who Sorrow.
I give my blessing spiritually to join you in our mutual prayers to the Mother of God Joy of All Who Sorrow. I thank you for your coming and participating in your wonderful service yesterday evening and today. Indeed, we need to be together and to pray together. I guarantee that when we pray together, the Lord and the Joy of All Who Sorrow Mother of God hear our prayers and have mercy on all of us.
You know that after God, the Holy Theotokos Joy of All Who Sorrow is our hope and guardian, our helper and healer.
Therefore, to Her do we pray, to Her do we commend ourselves and each other and all our life.
Can every one of us live as a healer? I think: Yes! We can! How? This is my experience: A well-dressed man stopped me on a busy sidewalk not long ago. I thought he was on top of the world, but behind the façade, he was in much pain. He and his wife had separated. He was so discouraged. “I don’t have a reason to live anymore, Father!”, he told me.
I decided to embrace him. He sobbed and sobbed. My cassock was wet with his tears. I didn’t have all the answers. I couldn’t solve all of his problems right there on the sidewalk. But I decided to “anoint” him with some healing oil. I offered words of encouragement. I looked the man in his eyes and said: “I don’t know you, but I want to tell you God’s hand is on your life. He’s got a destiny for you to fulfill. Don’t give up on your future. Everything will be alright!”
That’s all some people need to hear. You don’t have to preach a sermon. You don’t have to quote many Scripture verses or counsel them for eight hours. Just a few kind words can start the healing process.
After my words with the man on the street, he noticed how wet my cassock was from his tears. “O, Father, it looks like I’ve ruined your cassock!”
I didn’t tell him, but I wore those tears like medals on my cassock.
You are never more like God and Joy of All Who Sorrow Mother of God then when you’re helping those who are hurting. One of our assignments in life is to help wipe away tears.
The Holy Bible says that one day God will wipe away all the tears (Revelation 21:4). The Akathist of the Joy of All Who Sorrow Mother of God says that She is a laver that does wash the stain of sin and that She does wash away the sorrows of our sins.
But in the meantime, God and the Holy Theotokos are counting on you and me to wipe away the tears. It’s great to go to Church and celebrate God’s goodness. But our work continues when we step outside. Therefore, I ask you very kindly, always be ready to step up and offer healing.
Please, do not ignore those instincts that God and Holy Theotokos want you to bring healing. There’s a tear that needs to be wiped away.
The Holy Scripture says that the Lord Jesus Christ was a friend of sinners (Luke 7:34). We sing in the Joy of All Who Sorrow Akathist: “Rejoice healing of my body!” “Rejoice healing of all afflictions!” “Rejoice, healer of all infirmities!”
I don’t know about you, but I am determined to live as a healer. When someone falls and makes a mistake, I am showing up to help. And I want you to understand that you also can be determined to live as healers. If you are not fulfilling the Grace of God, you too could be in need of healing. When you show mercy to the guilty, when you encourage the discouraged, when you lift people up as everyone else is pushing them down, your actions touch the heart of God in a very special way.
As parents, I believe every one of you appreciates it if someone helps you. But if someone helps one of your children in a time of need, there is nothing in the world you wouldn’t do for that person. It’s the same way, I think with God. When you make it your business to help His children, His sons, His daughters, by wiping away their tears or lifting them when they are down, be prepared, you will not be able to outrun the goodness of God.
As Orthodox Christians we are so pleased that the Holy Orthodoxy does not beat our people down because they are not hard enough to others. We love what the Lord Jesus said: “My yoke is easy and my burden is light”(Matthew 11;30)
We love that our Church Patron is the Joy of All Who Sorrow Mother of God. So, we don’t see the need to beat anyone down. Life does that enough to people.
You are a container filled with God. Release His healing wherever you go, and I can assure you, God’s face will always shine down upon you. Amen.
With love in the Lord, +Metropolitan JOSEPH