A unique quality of Christian joy is that it invites the future into the present. Let’s try to make sense of that. Christian joy is built upon hope and love in the spiritual life. In Christianity 101 we know that love is willing the good of the other; which means you prefer the other and want the other to have every good thing. You sacrifice for the other, you give for the other, love rules out all selfishness! Hope is the expectation for something proper to your soul. That means, hope is the expectation that you will actually receive what your heart most deeply desires. Faith informs both of those. Faith tells us that what we hope for more than anything is to be with the one we love the most. So, we hope to be with God forever, to be happy and holy forever in love. We hope that one day we will love God as He deserves to be loved. So, where is joy in all this?
Joy is the realization that the future has stepped into the present. That while you have hoped for one day being with God and loving Him properly, God doesn’t want to wait for that distant day! Instead, eternity comes into time, the infinite into the finite, heaven into earth, God becomes man among us. God coming in the fullness of time didn’t mean that humanity had its act together and God doesn’t wait for you to get your act together either, He wants to step into your life RIGHT NOW!
Christian joy is the realization that you hadn’t even opened your mouth to make that prayerful plea before God responded in love. I know it’s a struggle to get rid of sin and to get your soul on the right track, it is certainly something that we have to work at every single day, hope and love demand it! My friends, don’t forget to rejoice though! God isn’t going to wait until you figure out how to make your life perfect (even he doesn’t have that kind of time...) Instead He wants to step into your life right now and get to work. He wants to show you how a real Christian hope leads to living a life of love and how that ultimately culminates in amazing and everlasting joy!
We speak often of bringing 12 people to a living faith in Jesus Christ before you die. A positive way to examine that process is to ask yourself what you hope for and how does your love live up to that hope. What kind of Christian do you hope to be? Does your love match that hope? What kind of parent or friend do you hope to be? Does your love rise to the challenge? I don’t really think we can lower our hopes, those are pretty well written on our soul. We can however do something about how we love, and I’ll just go ahead and tell you that when hope and love are in harmony there is an unstoppable Christian joy.
You and yours are in my prayers, Fr.