“Convince the people around you that they should rejoice. Because where there is a lack of joy, there God is absent”.
This heartrending paternal exhortation from this year’s Paschal message of Archbishop Makarios of Australia is a typical example of His Eminence’s sacred desire to uphold peace and joy, and which he has been proclaiming unceasingly, in both word and deed, since his arrival on the fifth continent, exactly four years ago. His is a burning desire for the Orthodox Church in Australia from one end to the other, to be enveloped with true joy; the joy in the Lord!
Thousands of believers and clergy had the opportunity to receive a small foretaste of this joy when they flocked to the Cathedral of the Annunciation in Sydney on 29 June, 2019. At the celebratory enthronement service of the new Archbishop of Australia, all who were present experienced feelings of true spiritual joy – not in the worldly sense, that is, as a result of worldly achievements or worldly pleasures, but – as the fruit of communion with each other and with Christ.
On that blessed day, during which His Eminence Archbishop Makarios officially assumed the “helm” of the Holy Archdiocese of Australia, his sacred desire to maintain, increase and spread this joy in Christ, which had filled the Cathedral, was reflected in two characteristic parts of the enthronement address he delivered:
- “From now on, you constitute the outline of my life, you are my brothers and sisters, and my joy.”
- “I shall strive with all my strength […] so that my journey here, my ministry and my witness, might be as a “gentle aura” that shall comfort you, bring you joy and direct you to man’s eternal destination in Christ…”
Since then, with God’s grace, four whole years have passed – a period filled with significant events for the Orthodox Church and the Greek Community, Australian society and all of humanity. Certainly, they were not all happy occasions and joyful in a worldly sense. But even amidst the difficulties, adversities, trials and disappointments, the course of the noetic ship of our local Church has remained inexorably oriented towards joy in Christ. Deeply aware of his mission, His Eminence has striven in all circumstances to support, comfort, strengthen and responsibly guide the blessed flock entrusted to him by God. To share “his joy with his brethren”, all that he is and all that he has, as he committed when assuming his duties in 2019. And, at the same time, to inspire with his example so that, day by day, the sacred desire of joy in the Lord is instilled in the souls of more and more people.
Much could be written about the leaps and bounds that the Holy Archdiocese has made, at all levels, over the last four years. However, all the individual works, achievements and resulting progress, contribute and lead to the spiritual rejuvenation and regeneration of the Christ-loving people of the local Church. All of us, the Orthodox Christians of the fifth continent, with more joy, with more peace, with more hope now face the future – both the earthly and heavenly one.
On the same blessed journey, a journey towards the immutable joy and communion with Christ, we pray that the noetic ship of our local Church continues to sojourn. Always under the spiritual auspices of the Mother Church, our Ecumenical Patriarchate, which through the unanimous decision of the Holy and Sacred Synod and the proposal of His All-Holiness Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew was pleased to send us a worthy helmsman, who is a loving, peacemaking and joyous spiritual father.
May God grant health, patience and strength to our esteemed Shepherd, so that he may always fulfill, for many years, the sacred desire of his heart: to rejoice and to make us joyful!