Saturday, February 11, 2012

The Joy of Life

A columnist for the Catholic Times wonders where is  his standard of judgement. How much does his Catholic belief affect his life? He suspects that the values of the world have an inordinate influence on his life: the desire for peace and security.

He reviews the many different ways we wish each other well. We often say: good health to you, become rich, meet a great partner and marry, hope you get a good job soon, study hard and get the school you want, and so on.

Shouldn't we as Christians, he asks, have a different set of greetings? Shouldn't we be saying: Follow God's will, be faithful in your life of faith, I will pray for you, be true to the Scriptures, I will pray that you be filled with grace and  peace, and so on. 

Most of our worries and troubles come, the columnist says, from our judging according to a worldly value system, from not seeing from a Godly viewpoint but seeing from our own self-interest and personal desires. This is true even though we believe that everything moves according to God's providence. Many fail to turn their worries and problems over to God but work as if everything depends on them, becoming lost and facing life with difficulty.  It is when one turns everything over to God that peace and joy can come into our life.

As a baby grows daily we also in our faith life should grow in maturity in a healthy way. In the same way as we expend our efforts and passions  on our dreams and hopes, shouldn't we, as believers, be expending the same kind of effort in having a mature faith life?

Our earthly life is short, the columnist reminds us, and it will soon disappear. As a believer we have values that go beyond this life; shouldn't they also deserve our efforts and passion? This transitory life, he points out, can be faced in many ways. The hedonist says "since I will die, I will eat drink and be merry." The nihilist says "life is empty," and the existentialist says "life has no substance and our plans are useless." The columnist asks what is the proper disposition of a person of faith facing an unknown future?  Human confidence on our continual health and possessions can lead to pride: We don't need God; we can do it alone. For the Christian, this is not one of our options. We want to live doing the will of  God.

When we look at our faith life, we can see many reasons for thanks. This gives us joy; we have maturity and a grace-filled life. This joy results not from giving thanks for the joy of life, but rather it is the thanks that gives joy to life. When I can truly give thanks for what I have received, then joy will enter my life and the desire to respond joyfully will be there.