Monday, January 26, 2015

A Call to Joy

Friends of Faith:
“Joy is eternal but happiness is fleeting.”
Or as Matthew Kelly says it: pleasure cannot sustain itself beyond the activity producing it.
I often hear, “God wants me to be happy.” But being happy is different in God’s eyes than ours. Pleasure, happiness, joy … God’s call is a call to joy, not to a happiness that we equate with pleasure but to a joy that is sustained eternally.
The word of the LORD came to Jonah, saying: “Set out for the great city of Nineveh, and announce to it the message that I will tell you.” So Jonah made ready and went to Nineveh, according to the LORD’S bidding. .....When the people of Nineveh believed God; they proclaimed a fast and all of them, great and small, put on sackcloth. When God saw by their actions how they turned from their evil way, he repented of the evil that he had threatened to do to them; he did not carry it out.” Jon 3: 1-5,10
God says to each of us, “Come follow me.” He said it to Mary, He said it to Jonah, He said it to Noah, He said it to Abraham, Isaac and David, He said it to each of the apostles, He said it to St. Mother Teresa and to St. (Pope) John Paul II, and He is saying it to each of us.  They all said yes to God’s call. And because they suffered and sacrificed their personal pleasures, they were made holy, blessed, saints. They were called to eternal joy, eternal happiness.
God calls each of us to follow him, to say yes to joy. So when I am asked to follow him, to sacrifice some pleasure to do his will, to stop my day for someone else, do I say, “YES,” or do I say, “wait, I’m can’t give that up now, I’m too busy?”
“Jesus came to Galilee proclaiming the gospel of God: “This is the time of fulfillment. The kingdom of God is at hand. Repent, and believe in the gospel.” As he passed by the Sea of Galilee, he saw Simon and his brother Andrew casting their nets into the sea; they were fishermen. Jesus said to them, “Come after me, and I will make you fishers of men.” Then they abandoned their nets and followed him. He walked along a little farther and saw James, the son of Zebedee, and his brother John. They too were in a boat mending their nets. Then he called them. So they left their father Zebedee in the boat along with the hired men and followed him.” Mk 1: 14-20
So what if I am too busy, take too long and the tomorrow I promised myself never comes? What if I am left behind like the hired men, too busy working to hear and answer the call? Or what if I am too busy listening to what the culture says should be my pleasure instead of listening to and searching for God’s truth which will achieve eternal joy?
“Remember your leaders who spoke the word of God to you; consider how their lives ended, and imitate their faith. Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever. Do not be carried away by all kinds of strange teaching.” Heb 13: 7-9
I know and realize just how much difference there is in my day when I really take the time to pray, to be in God’s presence (vs making prayer just a passing thought). And yet I am pulled by the culture to work, to be busy, to find immediate satisfaction and pleasure by saying “I’ll make time to do it later.”
I know how much better I feel when I give up my time to serve others—with an ear that listens and cares, a voice which praises, or a kind deed which makes someone else’s life easier.
I realize that in my busyness to be happy I only find joy (lasting happiness) when I have met the needs of others before I take care of my own; that the echo of a thank you goes beyond the pleasure of my own temporary fulfillment.  Seeing someone else experience peace, or bringing someone comfort or relief from stress, brings me a joy which I can recall many days later. Seeking pleasure is a constant temptation but unlike joy it never lasts.
It’s why cooking my favorite meal gives me more lasting joy when I give it away rather than the pleasure of eating it myself.
It’s why thinking of “happy times” doesn’t usually include a particular shopping trip or eating a Panera bagel (both which gave me a certain amount of pleasure and happiness at the time), but it always includes those times that were life changing or when there was healing and forgiveness – births, sickness and healing, marriage and recommitment, a retreat like CEW (Christian Experience weekend—see below) –joy, hope, resurrected peace and the comfort of healing.
God calls us to say yes to Him, as he called his disciples. God sends his messengers to us, as he sent Jonah to the people of Nineveh. I am called to listen and to imitate their faith. We are called to be countercultural in our actions – to love and to serve others, to use our riches for the good of others. We are called to inherit the earth, not to simply work to survive in it, or like the hired hands we may be left behind.
Heavenly Father, Your kingdom is far above the richness of this world. Help me to take the time to listen and to see all that you have blessed me with. When I am weak, grant me the patience and the wisdom to lay down my life for others as You did for us. Thank you for every opportunity I am given to be a witness in faith to others. Help me to say yes to your call to joy. Amen.
God is calling us to trust him and be faithful to Him. God is waiting to give us more than just happiness, He is waiting to bring us joy.
Be ready and say yes to His Call to Joy,

PS: CEW is just a few weeks away. Say yes by going to

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