Hearken, O daughter, and see, and incline thine ear;
And forget thine own people, and thy father's house;
And the king shall greatly desire thy beauty:
For He Himself is thy Lord; and thou shalt worship Him...
In the stead of thy fathers, sons are born to thee;
Thou shalt make princes over all the earth.

Psalm 44:9-10,15, The Psalter According to the Seventy

"Do not weep," Christ said to a woman whose only son was dead. She was not just deprived of the company of her closest living relative. She was deprived by the same stroke of her livelihood. And Christ forbids her to weep!

"Do not weep," Christ said, and raised her son from the dead.

Then said Martha unto Jesus, "Lord, if thou hadst been here, my brother had not died. But I know, that even now, whatsoever thou wilt ask of God, God will give it thee."

Jesus saith unto her, "Thy brother shall rise again."

Martha saith unto him, "I know that he shall rise again in the resurrection at the last day."

Jesus said unto her, "I am the resurrection, and the life: he that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live: And whosoever liveth and believeth in me shall never die. Believest thou this?"

John 11:21-26, KJV

For a long time, I found certain aspects of the Resurrection strange, perhaps strangest of all the dialogue on the road to Emmaus:

And, behold, two of them went that same day to a village called Emmaus, which was from Jerusalem about threescore furlongs. And they talked together of all these things which had happened.

And it came to pass, that, while they communed together and reasoned, Jesus himself drew near, and went with them. But their eyes were holden that they should not know him.

And he said unto them, "What manner of communications are these that ye have one to another, as ye walk, and are sad?"

And the one of them, whose name was Cleopas, answering said unto him, "Art thou only a stranger in Jerusalem, and hast not known the things which are come to pass there in these days?"

And he said unto them, "What things?" And they said unto him, "Concerning Jesus of Nazareth, which was a prophet mighty in deed and word before God and all the people: And how the chief priests and our rulers delivered him to be condemned to death, and have crucified him. But we trusted that it had been he which should have redeemed Israel: and beside all this, to day is the third day since these things were done. Yea, and certain women also of our company made us astonished, which were early at the sepulchre; And when they found not his body, they came, saying, that they had also seen a vision of angels, which said that he was alive.And certain of them which were with us went to the sepulchre, and found it even so as the women had said: but him they saw not."

Then he said unto them, "O fools, and slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken: Ought not Christ to have suffered these things, and to enter into his glory?" And beginning at Moses and all the prophets, he expounded unto them in all the scriptures the things concerning himself.

And they drew nigh unto the village, whither they went: and he made as though he would have gone further. But they constrained him, saying, Abide with us: for it is toward evening, and the day is far spent. And he went in to tarry with them. And it came to pass, as he sat at meat with them, he took bread, and blessed it, and brake, and gave to them.

And their eyes were opened, and they knew him; and he vanished out of their sight.

And they said one to another, "Did not our heart burn within us, while he talked with us by the way, and while he opened to us the scriptures?"

Luke 24:13-32, KJV

This passage perplexed me when I was younger, but now I find it wondrous. Christ seems to say nothing to console those who were perplexed at his death. Earlier at the grave one of the myrrh-bearers, perhaps crying buckets too much to see clearly and perhaps even more unable to imagine something much more astonishing, we read:

Jesus saith unto her, "Woman, why weepest thou? whom seekest thou?"

She, supposing him to be the gardener, saith unto him, "Sir, if thou have borne him hence, tell me where thou hast laid him, and I will take him away."

John 20:15, KJV

The gardener. In my culture, gardening is emblematic of privilege and status. In the myrrh-bearers' culture, a gardener was a low man on the totem pole. And she supposed the risen Christ to be a gardener, but he was above taking offense.

Jesus saith unto her, "Mary." She turned herself, and saith unto him, "Rabboni;" which is to say, "Master."

Jesus saith unto her, "Touch me not; for I am not yet ascended to my Father: but go to my brethren, and say unto them, I ascend unto my Father, and your Father; and to my God, and your God."

John 20:16-17, KJV

"Touch me not." As regards translation, this is a continuous verb tense; in other words the meaning is a little further from "Do not touch me once" than "Do not try to keep clinging to me here where I am," because Christ has more to give her than more of his physical, bodily presence even as resurrected. Mary Magdalene is overjoyed to recognize him resurrected and alive, and he raises her sights further. Christ is preparing to raise his following's sights, from his physical presence during his ministry, to his invisible presence, before ascending into Heaven.

The disciples don't get it. They don't get it when he is with them. They don't get it when he rises from the dead. They don't get it when he ascends to Heaven, and two men in white say, "Ye men of Galilee, why stand ye gazing up into heaven? this same Jesus, which is taken up from you into heaven, shall so come in like manner as ye have seen him go into heaven."

The mystical theology of the Orthodox Church is that Adam and Eve were intended to eat of the tree of knowledge of good and evil. However, they were intended to take it only when directed by the Lord, who would give it to him once they had grown mature enough to rightly benefit. The ban was only temporary.

"Adam, trying to be god, failed to be god. Christ became man, to make Adam god," as an old hymn says.

Pentecost comes, and the disciples get it. At Pentecost the disciples have eaten maturely of the tree of knowledge of good and evil.

Hearken, O daughter, and see, and incline thine ear;
And forget thine own people, and thy father's house;
And the king shall greatly desire thy beauty:
For He Himself is thy Lord; and thou shalt worship Him...
In the stead of thy fathers, sons are born to thee;
Thou shalt make princes over all the earth.

Psalm 44:9-10,15, The Psalter According to the Seventy

There are multiple layers and facets to all of Scripture, and it would be silly to fail to acknowledge the Psalm which I have now quoted twice as referring to the Mother of God. But the Mother of God is the Saint greater than the Saints, pre-eminent among all who follow our Lord. And the Psalm refers not only to her, but those of us who remain forever in her holy shadow.

I opened my last confession, "I alone and without any other created a situation in which my parents could veto my happiness." My Abbot, who wants his children to obtain his blessing for reading texts, whom I had simply asked for "a reading [assignment] from the library," and whom I had previously brought to confession that I had failed to cultivate internalized monastic discipline by failing to ask for blessings to read a nourishing stream of books, gave me the whole library to read from!

After that meeting, I had one of the best conversations I've had at the monastery, welcoming a young man who was inquiring about Orthodoxy and was very attentive to the invitations I gave him. I did not receive pity, but the consolation and privilege of rolling out the red carpet to a new inquirer.

The next day, I visited the other parish connected to my monastery, specifically to see a catechumen family, whom I had spoken with very briefly on a prior visit, and in return I received an invitation to a meal at their house. I have asked a blessing for that.

I had also confessed, bitterly, "seeking in things a happiness not to be found in things." God did not respond by making more pleasure from my possessions, but gave me happiness in things I should be seeking happiness in. Such as other people.

Pity us, O Lord, early every month: for we are not brought to an end, because his compassions are not exhausted. They are new every morning: great is thy faithfulness. The Lord is my portion, says my soul; therefore will I wait for him.

Lamentations 3:22-24, Sir Lancelot Brenton's translation

After the Resurrection, Christ did not appear to his enemies to settle a score.

The only score I remember him really settling was with St. Peter, who had apostasized by denying him three times. He was warming himself by a particular kind of charcoal fire, and Christ made the same kind of fire, with the same scent. He asked Peter three times, "Do you love me?" overcoming the three times he had been denied, Christ not acting out of sadism, but to help give a crushed and permanent humility to a man who would do very great works indeed, and to reinstate him as first among equals among the apostles.

"Forget thine own people, and thy father's house... sons are born of thee." For me this includes not only conflicts with my parents, but also my desire for a doctorate that I had still not repented of. My Ph.D. may have been cruelly confiscated, but it is as if Christ is saying, "Do not cling to a doctorate," because he has something better.

Someone had said, after an addiction had wounded a friendship, "Can things get back to where they were," and the answer was a decisive, "No." Things could absolutely not be restored to what they were in the past. In fact, things could become one hundred times better, but recreating the friendship before the betrayal of addiction was not an option. The only available good option would be to let things keep becoming better in reconciliation.

The Orthodox Church talks often about "hope in repentance," and I suggest more specifically that there are legitimate rewards for repentance, and it is not mercenary to want them. I discuss this some in Repentance, Heaven's Best-Kept Secret. The reward for repenting of seeking happiness in the wrong places is that you are freed to seek happiness in the right places, and find it! And there are all kinds of rewards, from a recovering alcoholic's regained sobriety being rewarded by having abandoned a suffering you would not wish on your worst enemy, regained sobriety being the reward of regained sobriety, to repentance of seeking escape from a miserable world being rewarded by realizing you are in a beautiful world that is a delight to be in, and what was intolerable was relating to the world through escapism. Virtue is its own reward, and I point out that without contradiction, virtue is also the legitimate and non-mercenary reward for repentance. The regained virtue fits the repentance, and sometimes God the Spiritual Father's infinite Providence gives other blessings as well.

God's kindness to those who repent is beyond Justice and beyond Mercy.

God's kindness to those who forget their father's house and consent to have princes born to them is beyond Justice and beyond Mercy.

Blessed are you who repent and seek virtue; for your reward, you shall have the virtue you seek, and it shall be a Resurrection.

The Feast of Feasts and Holy Day of Holy Days is Pascha, the holiday of the Resurrection, and every Sunday, every day, is Pascha, and St. Seraphim of Sarov was possibly being emphatic but never false by always greeting people, "Christ is risen, my joy!"

Joy has the shape of the Resurrection.

Truly happy living has the shape of the Resurrection.

Repentance has the shape of the Resurrection: Orthodox have recognized that beyond even being unconditional surrender, repentance is awakening, and not to put too fine a point on it, but awakening is the Resurrection.

Christ is risen, my joy!