My dear Brothers and Sisters,
           
At the beginning of every New Year we spontaneously express our wishes for joy and happiness, because, apart from health, these are the two traits we all wish for.  However, the wishes we give to others and those we receive, do not – by any means - contain any magical powers in them; as a result, they are neither fulfilled on their own, nor at random!

Before the Birth of Christ, pagan people believed in the goddess of Fortune.  We Christians, however, believe in one God, the Father Almighty, Creator of all, who, in His infinite love, created the world and us, human beings.

Thus, we Christians entrust our lives to the God-Man Jesus and we expect to acquire from Him the joy and peace we need so that we may be happy in life.  Joy and peace are God’s gifts and they are derived from His love and His wise Providence: "The joy that I give you no-one will be able to remove it from you” (John.15:22). "I give you my peace. Do not worry and do not have fear(John.14:27).
 
Christ invites everyone to come to Him to receive His own joy in fullness (Jn.15:10-12), provided they stay in communion with Him.

Those of us who have been baptized we have become members of the Body of Christ, the Holy Church, and through the mystery of Holy Chrismation we became receivers of the gifts of the Holy Spirit.

Yet, this bond with Christ, Who is the source of all joy and peace, in order to be maintained, it needs to be refreshed each day with "the living water," which He offers to us through His sacred word. Christ is very clear when He urges us to constantly study the Bible, from where we can draw 'the living water". He says: "whoever drinks of this water there will be a source within him that gushes up water of eternal life "
(Jn.4:10-14).  
 
Our soul, however, in order to be in a living communion with God, it needs to breathe. And breath of the soul is the breath of God that comes into us through our constant communication with Him, that is, through prayer. Saint John Chrysostom features: "there is a greater need for man to invoke God’s name than to breathe»!
 
A living organism needs water and clean air to survive. But it also needs proper nourishment to grow. Our food comes from Heaven, as the Proskomidi prayer mentions during the liturgy: "God, O our God, the heavenly bread, the nourishment of the whole world, you sent our Lord and God Jesus Christ as savior, deliverer and benefactor, blessing and sanctifying us”. And our Lord Himself assured us that "he who eats my flesh and drinks my blood remains in me, and me in him" (Jn. 6:56).

Whenever we receive Holy Communion we are united with Christ while our hearts are filled with joy and gladness. It is striking that the Divine Liturgy ends with the prayer recited by the priest before the Holy Gifts: "Christ our God ... fill up our hearts with joy and bliss always..."

In the troubled world we live in nowadays deadly raids, blind terrorist attacks, urban disasters, contamination of the natural environment, mass killings and endless waves of refugees, joy and happiness is not a self-evident matter for everyone to understand. These natural conditions are causing fear and insecurity. And the faithful Christian feels sympathy for the pain of others, whoever they may be, and does what he can to help them. But he does not get disappointed. Instead he calls on Him Who promised to be with him all the days of his life.

When the believer is experiencing life threatening situations, he repeats with the psalmist: "though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil. For You are with me" (Psalm 23:4). And "God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble" (Psalm 46:1).

During social unrest, the faithful Christian is strengthened by God Almighty and repeats the verses of the psalm: "We will not fear. Even though the earth be  removed, and though the mountains be carried into the midst of the sea” (Psalm 46:2).

Christ Who is in the heart of the believer, protects him against all adverse situations, even with His miraculous interventions, as we have numerous such incidents, not only in the Bible and in the life of the Saints, but nowadays in our daily life . How many such miracles we have seen, when we faced dangers, illnesses, sorrows, and even deprivation of the necessary for our survival. Besides, our Lord Jesus Christ has said: "Do not worry, for your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things. But seek the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you” (Matth. 6:31-33).
 
 
After all these assurances of our infallible God, and since we are trying every day to live in communion with our Lord Jesus Christ, we the faithful enter the New Year that was given to us by His mercy, with the certainty that peace and spiritual joy will prevail in our heart throughout the New Year.

 
I wish to all of you a BLESSED, PEACEFUL AND JOYFUL NEW YEAR!    
With the warm love in our Incarnate Lord,
 
+ Sotirios Metropolitan of Pisidia 

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