Where You Don’t Find Joy, Put Joy
MONDAY, Easter week six: May 2, 2016
The Responsorial Psalm tells us how God feels about us: “The Lord takes delight in his people” (Psalm 149). We need to accept this and rejoice in it.
In Acts 16: 11-15 a woman whom the missionaries had just met, Lydia, invites them to stay at her home: “If you are convinced that I believe in the Lord, come and stay at my home.” And the Apostles did.
This reminds us of Jesus’ promise: “Those who love me will keep my word, and my Father will love them, and we will come to them and make our home with them” (John 14:23).
This is a pretty clear affirmation of the Responsorial Psalm: “The Lord takes delight in his people.” But can you believe the Lord takes delight in you personally? That it fills him with joy to “make his home” in your heart? Or do you believe he is just there because he “has to” be, out of duty to us as God and Savior, the way some people go to Mass just because they “have to”?
Actually, those who come to church out of a sense of obligation are more likely to think God dwells in their hearts for the same reason. If we don’t take delight in him, we will find it hard to believe that he really takes delight in us. Then something important is lacking in our relationship. There is no joy.
John 15:26 to 16:4 does not say God only takes delight in us if we are working for him by bearing witness. But if we do take delight in him, it is a sure thing that we will bear witness. Jesus said “the Spirit of truth who comes from the Father… will bear witness on my behalf.” Why? Because the Spirit has been with Jesus, God the Son, from the beginning. He knows Jesus, loves him, and appreciates so much what he is that he cannot help witnessing to him. And Jesus says the same of his Apostles: “You must bear witness as well, for you have been with me from the beginning.” They cannot help proclaiming the Good News, the gift that Jesus is, and the gift that the Spirit is — because they have experienced their goodness. They are overwhelmed by what they have experienced. The same should be true of us.
What if we don’t feel overwhelmed with the joy of the Good News, the joy of knowing Jesus and knowing his love? What if we have not experienced the Spirit as Gift? Could it be because we are not loving God consciously? Because the Good News has become for us just a “religion” in the sense of a system of obligations? If so, we need to consciously take delight in God — Father, Son and Spirit — and in his indwelling presence in our heart. We need to remember, to sing and celebrate. As we bear witness to others, the Spirit will bear witness to us.
Initiative: Be a prophet. Where you don’t find joy, put joy, and you will find it.