Midweek Fellowship – October 18, 2017
Fr. Roberto M. Jorvina
God is good all the time! It is something that we miss many times, not because we don’t hear it, but because we don’t pay attention to it. There are so many voices and many things that happen all around the world that we live in. There are so many noises that are strange, and because of this, our attention, many times, is out of focus. We do not realize that there is the One and only One that we need to fix our eyes and our attention on. This is Jesus Christ the Author and the Perfector of our faith. Faith is so important because it is faith that will make us overcome the situations that we face each day.
On Wednesdays, we look at us being witnesses – of faith; of God’s love, forgiveness, mercy, and power. As in the Parable of the Wedding Feast, we are ushered to the very courtyard and the palace of the King. When we enter the kingdom of God, the mindset is about the King and His kingdom.
Looking at the parable, let us focus on the wedding feast; the celebration. In our Christian life, we have barely touched what true celebration is all about. We are witnesses of this celebration. We are witnesses of this joy because joy is the very underlying virtue and character of those who belong to the kingdom of God.
In one of the parables in Matthew 13, Jesus said, “The kingdom of heaven is like a treasure hidden in a field.” Because it is hidden, many people miss it. “…. Which a man found and hid. From joy over it, he goes and sell all that he has and buys that field.” When he discovered that which was hidden, he was exuberant with joy that it did not matter that he had to sell all that he had. So what if he lost all of them? He sold all of what he had so that he could have that treasure promised.
We miss this because we look at our lives in Christianity as a life of obligation and a life of compulsion. We miss the true meaning of the Kingdom. The root of what we do in the Kingdom is the joy of discovering the Kingdom. The joy will prod us to do anything because joy is not an emotion that we feel. It is beyond emotions. Joy is a state which comes from God.
In John 14, Jesus said, “I say these things to you so that your joy may be in Me, and that your joy may be full.” Joy is sometimes a neglected aspect of the Kingdom. Neglected is not that we don’t talk about it. In Christianity, we talk about being joyful, having fun, but we miss the real essence of joy. Joy is never based on the circumstances that surround us. It is an inner strength, an inner power that many have not tapped into. Because of that, many of the things that we do are borne out of compulsion rather than the strength and the joy that comes from within us, that bubbles up like a spring that is just there naturally coming up.
In Hebrews 12, it says, “Therefore, since we have so great a cloud of witnesses surrounding us, let us also lay aside every encumbrance and the sin, which easily so entangles us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us.” What is our inspiration to do this? “Fixing our eyes on Jesus, the Author and the Perfector of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame and He sat down at the right hand of God.”
There was nothing joyful about Good Friday. In fact, a tradition was that you can’t smile or laugh on this day because Jesus died on this day. From a human standpoint, there is no joy at the Cross of Calvary, with Jesus’ crown of thorns, with His sides pierced, His back like one big bleeding wound. But the Bible says that there was joy and what Jesus expressed was the foundation of our salvation.
In Hebrews 10:32, it says, “Remember the former days when, after being enlightened, you endured a great conflict of suffering.” To paraphrase, “Do you remember when you were a young Christian, and after you attended and committed yourself in the Choir Ministry, you suddenly experienced a trial? Verse 33-34, “Partly by being made a public spectacle through reproaches and tribulations, and partly by becoming sharers with those who were so treated. For you showed sympathy to the prisoners and accepted joyfully the seizure of your property, knowing that you have for yourselves a better possession and a lasting one.” The kingdom of heaven is like a treasure which was hid and when one found it, he went out with joy.
Joy is such a powerful weapon in our daily walk in Christian life. It does not depend on what is around us. In the song, “My Glory and the Lifter of My Head” it says, “I cried to the Lord with my voice, and He heard me from His holy hill.” This is taken from Psalm 3. David wrote this when he was fleeing from a coup d’état of Absalom as his throne was threatened to be snatched from him. Many times, we always look down. Man is the only “animal” that is upright and that can look up because we are always up-lookers. Man was created to praise God and to look up. This is joy!
In Jeremiah 32:17, Jeremiah came out of the pit and said, “Ah, Lord God, Thou hast made the heavens and the earth by Thy great power. Thou hast made the heavens and the earth by Thou outstretched arm. Nothing is too difficult for me.” In Acts 17, St. Paul, at the mountain of Athens, Mars Hill, as he was talking to the sages said, “My God is the God of our fathers. In Him we live, and move and have our being.” It was a poem that was popular amongst the Greeks at that time that St. Paul used to awaken those who were at the Mars Hill.
We can see that joy is not based on a situation. It is great to experience joy during a celebration or a party, but the joy continues to be there after all the feastings. Why are we sad during January 3 or 4? Because Christmas is over? And the parties are over? If we say that Christmas is year round, then, we should always be joyful.
When one of my daughters had dengue, the Lord led me to Psalm 62, “I wait for the Lord in silence for from Him only will I wait.” There was an inexplicable joy even though it was hard to stay focused, especially if it was your child that is involved. Joy never leaves us. Joy is something that goes beyond what we have in our pockets. Joy goes beyond what we will get tomorrow. Joy goes beyond the celebrations and the parties. Even in difficult times, joy is there because this is what the kingdom of God is. Joy is a celebration that we have every day.
St. Therese of Avila said, “Deliver us, Lord, from sour faced Christians.” The reason we sing songs before the Mass is because before we enter the presence of the King, we have to have joy. We rejoice because Christ is in us, the hope of glory. When St. Therese of Lyceux died of tuberculosis, her face was glowing. When Stephen was stoned to death, his last words were, “Lord, do not let this sin be upon them.” And when he died, the people saw his radiant face glow.
When we have the joy of the Lord, we will always glow no matter what we face because this joy comes from within us.