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Possessing Joy: Weekly Message for 01/17/2023
By the time you read this, traces of the Christmas season will be packed away and the Church will have entered “ordinary time.” Glad tidings of comfort and joy are replaced with valentine decorations and resolutions to get healthy. The Angel’s message proclaiming joy and good will to men are packed away with the tree ornaments.
Joy, however, is not transient. It is a perpetual jubilation of the heart that comes from knowing that we are made for more—a more so brilliant, so fulfilling, it reaches far beyond our comprehension. An internal knowing that everything we are experiencing today will make sense in eternity. The proclamation of joy to men was never meant to be a once-a-year season. It’s meant to penetrate every fiber of our beings, forever.
I recently heard a homily on the Marriage Feast at Cana, and it stuck with me. In the beginning of his Gospel’s second chapter, John states that “When the wine ran short, the mother of Jesus said to him, “They have no wine.” (And) Jesus said to her, “Woman, how does your concern affect me? My hour has not yet come.” His mother said to the servers, “Do whatever he tells you.”
The priest offered the possibility that Mary, Jesus’ mother, was not just referring to the wine shortage, but also to the shortage of joy in the hearts of the people present. Perhaps their expressed happiness to participate in the feast was superficial, that they were going through the motions of celebrating this wedding occasion, but interiorly, they were numb. They had lost site of the fact that they were made for more. They were more.
St Paul’s letter to the Ephesians reminds them that before they met Christ, they were a people without hope. In his encyclical Spe Salvi (Saved in Hope), Pope Benedict writes, “The one who has hope lives differently: the one who hopes has been granted the gift of a new life.”
Mary, having spent thirty years pondering the mystery of God becoming man in her son, Jesus, recognizes the lack of hope as the chosen people. Her concern for those at the wedding feast was that they had lost the reason for their joy, and she knew the answer: Only through an encounter with Jesus Christ would they be transformed from within.
Encountering Jesus is the source of our joy, and that encounter is meant to be a daily occurrence—through our prayers, through the sacraments and through other people. We were all made for eternity with God.
When we possess true joy, we live differently because nothing in this world can take that from us. Joy comes from that assurance we were all made for more.
Yours in the Heart of Jesus,