I have heard that St. Seraphim of Sarov would greet everyone he met with, “Christ is Risen, My Joy.” It did not matter what season of the year it was. He would always use the Paschal greeting, and rather than use a name, he would call each person, “My Joy.” I do not think he just had trouble remembering names. He truly felt joy in the presence of each visitor that came to him. I was considering what that would be like to look at each person we meet with joy like that. We so often see other people as obstacles, objects, or threats to our perceived sources of joy. We forget that Christ is our joy and that there is an unbreakable connection between our love for Him and our love for others.
When thinking of joyous greetings, such as St. Seraphim’s, my thoughts went to another glad greeting from Luke 1:43. In the midst of her greeting to Mary, Elizabeth cries out, “But why is this granted to me, that the mother of my Lord should come to me?” Perhaps we think that it would make sense for St. Seraphim to cry out, “My Joy,” if he was meeting someone like the Theotokos. Afterall, it is easy to see the cry of Elizabeth echoed in a similar cry from King David, “How can the Ark of the Lord come to me?” (2 Samuel 6:9). We can partly understand Elizabeth’s humble greeting when meeting such holiness.
But sometimes, maybe we forget that Mary is not an exception. She is not intrinsically different from us. She lived a holy life, and she is a great example for us. She bore Jesus in the deep intimacy of a mother to a child, and we are invited to bear Christ in a similar deeply spiritual way.
If you could truly live into the radiance of the invitation to bear Christ in your life, it would not surprise me if St. Elizabeth were to see you approach and say to you, “Why is this granted to me, that the temple of my Lord should come to me?”
Do you see yourself that way? Do you see other people as temples or potential temples of Christ? When viewed this way, it is no wonder that St. Seraphim addressed every visitor with the name, “My Joy.”
I cannot help but think how different a day might be when lived with the humble eyes and heart of St. Elizabeth and St. Seraphim. With my family, I’d say, “Why is this granted to me, to be a father and husband to these precious miracles, beloved of God?” Standing in liturgy I’d say, “Why is this
granted to me, to sing amidst these living temples?” Even with strangers I could say, “Why is this granted to me to meet this special person?” Perhaps I’d never find need to judge anyone again, and all day I’d simply cry out, “My Joy!” St. Elizabeth perceived the presence of Christ in the Theotokos, and St. Seraphim perceived this presence in everyone. With eyes and hearts like these, we would always be mindful that “Christ is Risen!” and, “Christ is in our midst!”