Saturday, May 14, 2011

hesus JOY christ precedence

May 10:How to increase your joy

Some translations of the Bible define the "great joy" in the last line of today’s first reading as "the rejoicing rose to fever pitch." In the responsorial Psalm, we hear: "Shout joyfully to God!" I hope that if you go to Mass today, the reader doesn't read it like an obituary. God is so awesome, we should be whooping it up!
No wonder Christianity isn't very appealing to non-believers. They don't see enough of us enjoying our faith. Do our faces show it? Do we rejoice more than we complain? Do we convey to the world how exciting it is that God is bigger than our problems?
What holds us back from openly showing our faith? Are we afraid that others will ridicule us? How silly! We go to sporting events and whoop it up like goofy children. Is a game more worthy of joyful shouting than the Lord? Perhaps we've merely forgotten that we enjoy being Christian.
Does having crucifixes on our walls and around our necks and dangling from our rosary beads imply that we're supposed to focus on pain and suffering? Does our history of Saints with stigmata imply it? No! We are an Easter people!
Imagine the joy that's in heaven. In today’s Gospel reading, Jesus reminds us that all who follow him are going to receive eternal life. Could it be so wonderful there that everyone's whooping it up, including your deceased relatives and friends who used to be so subdued in church?Joy is one of the fruits of living in the Holy Spirit (see Galatians 5:22). Guess what happens when we openly display our joy. We evangelize ourselves! Psychologists say that smiling reduces stress. Medical doctors say that laughter heals. If you need healing, if you need renewal, if you need to be lifted up out of misery, hold a praise and worship session with Jesus, your guardian angel, and a CD of joyful music.
One morning as I prayed on the way to Mass during a long series of challenges and difficulties, a tune filled my brain: "Shout to the Lord all the earth, let us sing…." So I grabbed an upbeat music CD, turned the volume up loud, and drove to church singing and seat-dancing. At three traffic lights, my joy was in plain view of the people in other cars. I gave myself permission to not care whether they thought I was crazy.
As I neared the church, guess which song on the CD started next. "Shout to the Lord"! Coincidence? Not! I beebopped with the Lord in my car in the parking lot until it finished, keeping my eyes closed so I wouldn't know who saw me. It made the whole Mass a different experience for me. It made the whole day different.
Whatever happens in your life today, give yourself a spiritual exercise: Rejoice! Give praise to God for his goodness. SHOUT IT OUT! (See if that doesn't make you giggle.)

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