Thy Kingdom Come!
“May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope” (Romans 15:13).
Joy is the dominant sign of new creation! This is revealed from the tomb with the Resurrection of Jesus on Easter morning. This Easter joy spills into our present lives, and continues during the 50 days of the Easter Season and beyond. As we anticipate the Solemnity of the Ascension and the Feast of Pentecost, we are called to remain an Easter people filled with Alleluias.
If you find it challenging to be joyful in our present culture you are not alone. We must remember that joy is the most important witness that Christians can give to the world! God gives us firm hope with His eternal love for us! The apostles – who followed Jesus and heard His teachings first hand – still had doubts and fears.
“So when the apostles were with Jesus, they kept asking him, ‘Lord, has the time come for you to free Israel and restore our kingdom?’” (Acts 1:6).
“Today's obsession with immediate results makes it hard for pastoral workers to tolerate anything that smacks of disagreement, possible failure, criticism, the Cross! Christian triumph is always a cross, yet a cross, which is at the same time a victorious banner borne with aggressive tenderness against the assaults of evil” (Pope Francis)
Faith and trust in the Lord are gifts for all of us! The word “blessed” in the bible implies happiness. In His teaching in the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus compares the world’s idea of happiness with real blessedness in spiritual richness, which we obtain in a true relationship with God. The Beatitudes were given to Jesus’ closest followers, not the general community. He was preparing them for a life unlike anything lived or believed in worldly thoughts or actions. True joy cannot be found in selfish desires or self-justification.
“Blessedarethosewhomourn, for they will be comforted” (Matt. 5:4). Those who experience grief by mourning over their own sins can seek a humble and contrite heart with God. Yielding to sadness is something we should resist, and being apathetic about the problems of the world is not the answer either. Pope Francis addresses this in “The Joy of the Gospel,” where he calls this acedia – the deadly sin of sloth.
Life is full of hardship, with many cycles of success and failure. So how do we remain joyful in self-giving and tireless service to others? People with great plans often burn out; and if we are honest, many of the things we do in life fall short, fall apart, and are often forgotten or unappreciated.
Through the cross, Jesus gives us hope by making our attempts and failures a privileged entry into the Kingdom of God in this world. When we put everything in God’s hands, we find total confidence – without fear of failure, regret or concern about the end results.
God’s Will brings victory over evil. This is the view from God’s Kingdom in heaven, but when you have strong faith ... this will be your view here on earth. Fill the world with an inexhaustible source of joy during the 50 days of the Easter Season! Alleluia! Amen!