April 8, 2018
Fr. Tim Nolt
Saint Mary Cathedral
C RC 201
Fruit of the Spirit, Galatians 5:22-26 - JOY
Joy, χαρά, in NT Greek is used to indicate "self-being in self-transport . . . a culmination of existence." Joy strains beyond itself, inhabited by the spark of the divine. "Joy is not just a state of feeling but a way of making the world manifest. Joy is determined by the discovery of being in its joyousness” (Theological Dictionary of the New New Testament, Eerdmans).
We know joy because God rejoices. Preparing for his Passion, Jesus first addresses his disciples at the Last Supper. He invites us to know his joy as his friends, and by becoming like him:
“By this is my Father glorified, that you bear much fruit and become my disciples. As the Father loves me, so I also love you. Remain in my love. If you keep my commandments, you will remain in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commandments and remain in his love. “I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and your joy may be complete.This is my commandment: love one another as I love you. No one has greater love than this, to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. You are my friends if you do what I command you,” (John 15:8-14).
And then, as Jesus prepares to give Himself completely for us, to the Father, he says this: But now I am coming to you. I speak this in the world so that they may share my joy completely,” (John 17:13).
Joy is not the absence of suffering. It is not the perfect life, with all the qualities in place for well-being. Joy can be found in the midst of the desert as well as on the mountaintop; joy can be found in the valley of the shadow of death as well as on the beach of contentment and delight. Joy is the choice to find God in all moments, in all things. Henri Nouwen says this of joy:
"God rejoices because one of his children who was lost has been found. What I am called to is to enter into that joy. It is God's joy, not the joy that the world offers.” It is the ability to rejoice in the small, hidden things of daily life. "The reward of choosing joy is joy itself. Living among people with mental disabilities has convinced me of that. There is much rejection, pain, and woundedness among us, but once you choose to claim the joy hidden in the midst of all suffering, life becomes celebration. Joy never denies the sadness, but transforms it to a fertile soil for more joy" (Nouwen, The Return of the Prodigal Son, 114-116).
Welcome to Easter Joy! I have experienced a glorious start to the Resurrection season with the Cathedral community during Holy Week and Easter. The entire days of these glorious liturgies reminded me of the great privilege to be part of the community of Jesus’ disciples. The invitation to know His love is both personal and universal. Our liturgical life is always a "moment captured in time" of our visible members, who yearn to become saints among the saints with the Mystical body of Christ. Thank you for all you do. May the joy of Christ be ever present in our hearts, thoughts, feelings and actions in the days ahead.
JOY - BEATITUDE
1720 The New Testament uses several expressions to characterize the beatitude to which God calls man: (1027)
— the coming of the Kingdom of God;16
— the vision of God: “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God”;17
— entering into the joy of the Lord;18
— entering into God’s rest:19
There we shall rest and see, we shall see and love, we shall love and praise. Behold what will be at the end without end. For what other end do we have, if not to reach the kingdom which has no end?20
1721 God put us in the world to know, to love, and to serve him, and so to come to paradise. Beatitude makes us “partakers of the divine nature” and of eternal life.21 With beatitude, man enters into the glory of Christ22 and into the joy of the Trinitarian life. (260)
16 Cf. Mt 4:17.
17 Mt 5:8; cf. 1 Jn 2; 1 Cor 13:12.
18 Mt 25:21–23.
19 Cf. Heb 4:7–11.
20 St. Augustine, De civ. Dei 22, 30, 5: PL 41, 804.
21 2 Pet 1:4; cf. Jn 17:3.
22 Cf. Rom 8:18.
Catholic Church, Catechism of the Catholic Church, 2nd Ed. (Vatican City: Libreria Editrice Vaticana, 1997), 428.