Mission Blog Prelude
London, UK. I am writing this blog en route to London, and praying for the success of our band of joyful missionaries in midtown Manhattan later today. Although my "day job" has called me away, know that Evelyn and I are very much with you in spirit.
Our theme this Advent is drawn from yesterday's readings: "The Joy of Christ".
I rejoice heartily in the Lord,/ in my God is the joy of my soul. Is 61:10
Three aspects of Joy to share today in the big Cathedral in midtown.
1. "The fruit of the Christian life well lived is Joy." Many of the souls we will reach today too often associate the Faith with sadness, deprivation, sacrifice, and struggle. They see organized religion, and particularly Catholicism, as asking "too much". True believers, on the other hand, recognize they've been liberated from the captivity of sin by Christ. In that liberation, we are joyful. One way of sharing this Joy with others is to invite them to Confession. Most are fearful of it. Embarrassed. Pained. Remind them how Great, how Joyful, they will feel when they come out of Confession, fully ready to participate in the Christmas festivities. There is nothing like it! Suddenly forgiven through God's great mercy, they will be truly joyful, perhaps overwhelmingly so. The best way to draw people to confession isn't to argue them in-- it's to demonstrate your Christian Joy to them. Deep, confident, rich. Be so joyful that the next person you meet in the big Cathedral will simply say, "I'll have what you're having." Then send them to Confession.
2. "'Joy' is deeper and more permanent than 'Happy'". Most of the folks we meet tonight struggle to differentiate "joyful" from "happy." Happy is the current culture's offering to those it is trying to draw away from Joy. Happy, unfortunately, is but a faint imitation of joy. Happy is fleeting, transitory, here tonight, gone in the morning. Joy is permanent, not just because it lasts thru all the ups and downs of this life, but also because it leads to heaven and the angels. Joy is eternal. Literally.
3. "We are joyful because we are loved." Where does this Christian Joy come from? Love. The love of Jesus. The love we feel when we reflect on him up there on that cross, giving his all for us. The love we experience when we receive him into us in the Eucharistic Communion with God. And yes, the Love we experience in a very special way in the sacrament of Reconciliation, when we bring our broken souls to Jesus, tell him we're sorry, and then receive back that big God hug that tells us he loves us still, that we are very much beloved sons and daughters of Christ. That's the Joy the souls visiting St. Patrick's today will see as penitents coming floating out of the confessional, beaming-- lighter than air. That's the Joy of Jesus.
December 18, 2023