Wednesday, July 9, 2014

A Joy-filled Life

The pope's visit to Korea is approaching and there is hope within the Church that it will be more than an event, but an occasion for renewal. The editor's column in the Peace Weekly asks what is to be done and where do we  begin? He, like many others feels the exhortation of the pope: Joy of the Gospel is a good place to start.

He selects two areas, not in their degree of  importance, but rather of ease in discussion, the need as Christians to live full of joy, and the second is to embark upon a new way of  evangelization with new paths for the Church's future journey.

These two are not to be separated. The life of a Christian has to be one with obvious joy for without  joy the words we  express of Gospel joy become empty.This living the joyous life is a prerequisite for evangelization and its foundation.

The pope in the exhortation mentions those  "Christians whose lives seem like Lent without Easter" (#6).  " Evangelizers must never look like someone who has just come back from a funeral!"(#10) He stresses we must live a joy-filled life.
Why is it that we do not live this joy-filled life? "Whenever our interior life becomes caught up in its own interests and concerns, there is no longer room for others, no place for the poor. God’s voice is no longer heard." When this happens: "the quiet joy of his love is no longer felt, and the desire to do good fades." These are the  words in (# 2) of the exhortation.

The pope gives us the prescription for this  kind of life." I invite all Christians, everywhere, at this very moment, to a renewed personal encounter with Jesus Christ, or at least an openness to letting him encounter them; I ask all of you to do this unfailingly each day. No one should think that this invitation is not meant for him or her, since 'no one is excluded from the joy brought by the Lord'. The Lord does not disappoint those who take this risk; whenever we take a step towards Jesus, we come to realize that he is already there, waiting for us with open arms... No one can strip us of the dignity bestowed upon us by this boundless and unfailing love. With a tenderness which never disappoints, but is always capable of restoring our joy" (#3).

What is another reason we are not living this life of joy? We are not sure that we are loved by Jesus. Because we are Christians does not mean we will not have pain and sorrow in our lives. "Joy adapts and changes, but it always endures, even as a flicker of light born of our personal certainty that, when everything is said and done, we are infinitely loved."  The pope goes on to explain: "But this I call to mind, and therefore I have hope: the steadfast love of the Lord never ceases, his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning." (#6).

To live with this Gospel joy we need to open our hearts and secondly, to have unlimited trust in his love. If there are any Christians without the joy let them pay attention and practice this in their daily life. He also feels a need to do this in his own life. He concludes that he has always been open and proud of being a Catholic but has not lived a clearly joy-filled life.

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