Imagine if we weren’t allowed to goof around at all. The Pilgrims, for example, had laws prohibiting people from having fun if it caused them to not “keep holy the Sabbath.” That might seem ridiculous today – and it should. We should listen to St. Paul when he says, in Philipians 4:4, “Rejoice in the Lord always. I shall say it again: rejoice!”
Think of the words we use: We celebrate Mass together. Communion is the celebration of the Eucharist. We sing together too! It’s too bad many people don’t seem to experience joy at Mass. Too many of us just go through the motions － worrying about work or school or a thousand other things that might be bothering us － and don’t treat it as the celebration that it’s supposed to be! Mass shouldn’t be dreary and boring. It shouldn’t be something we do with a heavy sigh and a feeling of resignation. It’s a celebration of our covenant with Christ － a promise that should fill us with optimism and hope － so we should try to truly put our minds and hearts into that celebration!
Celebration is important because it can be exciting and exhilarating, which describes fun as well as joy; but “joy” is so much more. Joy can also be found in peaceful moments. Joy can be found in the quiet of nature, or the comfortable silence of simply sitting with someone who loves you. One definition of joy that I really like is this: “Joy is knowing that you are in harmony with God’s will.” When I think about “joy” that way, it makes the word seem huge!
Being in harmony with God’s will. Harmony. Think about it. When voices sing in harmony, they’re not singing exactly the same notes; they’re singing notes that complement each other and create a sound much more beautiful than any single voice alone.
There are certainly times when we won’t be in harmony with God’s will but God always invites us back. God wants us to live our lives in harmony with his will. God wants us to live lives of incredible joy!
Think about it a bit more though: Living this type of joy doesn’t mean you’ll always be happy and having fun. Sometimes God’s will could have us doing service work － helping the poor or sick － or choosing not to participate in gossip. Living in harmony with God’s will might mean forgiving people who hurt us instead of getting back at them. It could also mean deciding against some things that may provide immediate satisfaction, like alcohol, drugs, or sex.
That’s the crux of the issue for most of us. We’ll choose the immediate, short term “fun” we can experience from things that aren’t good for us in the long term. Oh, we’ll make all kinds of excuses in our own minds about why it’s okay and how it’s not a problem but the fact is that when we make those choices we are NOT living in harmony with God’s will. And, by definition, that means we will not be able to experience true joy.
It won’t always be easy － no one ever said following Christ would be － but any of the things we pass up in the short run actually pale in comparison to what living in harmony with God’s will brings us in the long run: The ultimate joy of eternal life with Christ in heaven!
My prayer for you is that you choose true joy. That you choose to live in harmony with God’s will. And that during those times when you aren’t in harmony, you remember that God is still there, waiting to welcome you back. Our Father wants us to live lives of abundant joy and, when the time comes, to experience the ultimate joy of eternal life in heaven.Take the CHALLENGE !