BE STILL AND KNOW THAT I AM GOD.
Be in your prayer space, follow the usual steps and settle into silence.
Take a couple of gentle, slow and deep breaths…becoming aware of your breath going in and out… stay focused on this breath of life……Breathe in all that is of God and from God…all that is true, honest, pure, admirable, noble, decent, virtuous, worthy of praise, good, loving, kind – all that deserves respect..
Settle into silence, into peacefulness, into profound silence, into pure joy. Keep listening in quietness, stillness and serenity. Come to that place, that space within, that place of deep silence – Solitude…to just being here and now, without having to accomplish something.
Now I invite you to consecrate your time and all that come with this moment….in your own way, in humble, simple, may be even inadequate words………..
It’s time to rest with God……to rest in God. This hour…..this moment…..rest in God.
Good-bye to all goals, projects, structures, situations, feelings, thoughts….I am in meditation, in contemplation, resting in God, abiding in God.
Now from the depth of your heart begin to wish your mind well.
Deep, down there…… there is a presence, a presence of Grace, peace, love, joy……..an indwelling of God……….look beyond…don’t ever stop looking, because it is there….. Deep within us is a place, a sacred space where we have found God and God has found us.
Our God is abiding, abundant, steadfast, unconditional love – Grace.
Our God is God of enduring, everlasting blessings.
Be joy-filled and Be channels of joy for all!
Abide in these thoughts for a few minutes.
Our meditation this morning is on finding joy within and bringing joy to others. I believe that real joy is pure and simple. This joy is abiding, enduring, lasting, and steadfast and an ever present reality at the depth of our being. It is up to us to go beyond, to go deep down inside and find this joy. No one can find it for us. We must discover it deep within us and nurture the joy that we find and share it with those around us and in that sharing our joy matures.
Jesus said: “All this I tell you so that my joy may be yours and your joy may be complete”
(John 15:11); Be joyful always; pray continually; give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus (1 Thessalonians 5:16-18); Rejoice in the Lord always. I say it again, rejoice. Everyone should see how unselfish you are. The Lord is near. (Philippians 4:4-5).
Real Joy springs from within. No one makes us joyful. It is up to us to choose to be joyful. We must discover and rediscover the secret of joy and peace that lives within us. That joy and peace are God’s gifts, the divine resource, as it were, waiting to be tapped into, experienced and enjoyed. God has not abandoned us, His people. He has NOT given up on us. And we have reason to be joy-filled and joyful.
The Joy that lives within us empowers us to go on in hope, even when storms of life disrupt relationships, incredible tragedies happen, mega-companies lie and cheat the public, ministers of God sin and abuse their privileges, and many such slings and arrows come straight at us. The joy that lives within remains an ever renewable wellspring of courage and peace because that joy is of God and that Joy is God himself.
The prophet Isaiah identified God as the “joy of my soul” (Is.61:1-11) and celebrated his vocation to bring “Joy”, to sing out the good news of healing, grace, justice and salvation.
The prophet Zephaniah called his people to rejoice because, “The Lord is in our midst”. “Shout for joy! Sing! Be glad! Fear not!”. Be happy! Because “The Lord is near”! (Zephaniah 3:14-18). Zephaniah spoke of the day when God would “remove the proud boasters” and “leave a humble and lowly people” (3:11-13). It was these, the humble, lowly, the remnant of Israel, whom the prophet invited to rejoice. God himself would rejoice and “sing joyfully as one sings at festivals”, says the Prophet.
Our belief in the nearness of our God should remove all fears and anxieties while bringing true and abiding peace and joy. We must choose over and over again to rejoice with our God because “God is in our midst”.
Paul encouraged the Thessalonian community to make “rejoicing” a habit. “Rejoice always”, Paul says. (I Thess. 5:16-24). John the Baptist proclaimed repentance and change of heart, “make straight the way of the Lord”. Making “God’s way straight” means making room for God’s gift of Joy and peace.
Paul encouraged the Philippian converts, “Rejoice in the Lord always!” and again, “Rejoice!” Because “The Lord is near”! Our belief in the nearness of our God should remove all fears and anxieties and bring us true and abiding peace. (Philippians 4:4-7). Paul was in prison and the Philippian converts were about to experience the pain of persecution. Today, he exhorts us to rejoice and to nurture authentic joy amid the pain of war, car-bombings, terrorist threats and attacks, poor leadership, clergy scandal, etc. Paul’s reason for joy is “The Lord is near”.
Faith in the nearness of God should not only make us rejoice, but should enable us to cope with anxiety. Paul encouraged his readers and us today not to waste time fretting or worrying. Instead, channel all energies into prayer, with gratitude. Paul says that those who call upon God in grateful prayer, will be empowered to endure anxiety and know God’s peace and joy, which surpasses all understanding.
Mary visited her cousin Elizabeth and gave her much joy and comfort and courage. They truly became a source of blessing and Grace for each other as they shared how God was working through them and through the new lives they were nurturing within them (Luke 1:39-45).
Mary reached out to her cousin Elizabeth in her need and stirred up life in her. “The moment your greeting sounded in my ears, the baby stirred in my womb for joy”, said Elizabeth.
Take a few moments and reflect on stirring up life in others.
The first expression of the joy of the coming of Jesus was the leap of a baby growing within an elderly woman. What an amazing experience: amazing Grace – a baby in one womb responding to another baby in another womb – one tender life responding to another in its tenderness!
Reflect on this amazing experience! Tenderness responding to tenderness! Gentleness responding to gentleness! Love responding to love!
It is up to us to reach out and stir up life and joy in each other. That is what Jesus came to bring “Life and Joy” to the fullness. Jesus said: I have come so that you may have life to its fullness (John 10:10) and that you may be joyful and your joy may be complete (John 15:11).
Be joyful and nurture joy within! Welcome and respond positively and joyfully to the many wonderful opportunities which the Lord sends. The opening message of Jesus was: “Reform your lives! The reign of God is at hand!” This is the good news…this is the Gospel….the presence of the reign of God, the ‘already’ and ‘not yet’ of Christian life. We do not know how or when all things will be transformed.
Wherever you may be on your spiritual journey, believe and affirm the presence of joy deep within you. If you don’t feel it at the moment, make an affirmation of faith that it is there waiting to be taped into. Learn to draw from this Wellspring of Joy and bring this joy of your spirit into your daily life. Joy comes when you decide to grow through joy and to bring joy into your life and into the lives of others.
Learn to trust that the universe is good…God made it good and that it is always working for you, that is, in your favor, it is not your enemy, it is your friend. It is up to you to choose to be the friend of the universe. Joy comes when you understand that everything that happens in your life can be channels of blessings, everything including the most difficult and the most painful can contribute to being joyful.
In every meditation that I have given, I have invited you to “to wish your mind well” “from the depth of your heart”. Attitudes are magnetic and every moment you spend in joy magnetizes and energizes another moment of joy. Joyful emotions are always more powerful in their ability to create and to energize than negative emotions. Acknowledge the joy you already have in your life and you will feel it even more.
I know many who are so busy fulfilling their daily chores, duties and obligations that they have no time to be joyful. Being joyful is seen as something that may happen in some distant future, may be some place in heaven! Being joyful is not some project to be accomplished in the future. It is the experience of the present moment.
Joyfulness springs from a sense of well-being right now. Now is the moment of Grace. Enjoy every moment you have. You will enjoy it even more when you can share it with someone special. Open yourself to this path of Joy.
Martin Luther is supposed to have said, “If I knew that tomorrow was the end of the world, I would plant an apple tree today.” The joy of being alive today and being the beneficiaries of other people’s hard work, is expressed in making a contribution of our own to the world around us….planting apple tree is a way of saying, “thank you” and saying, “I am glad…I rejoice…The world has been good to me….I will bless the world…..and more!
Your attitude, your inner disposition determines how you experience the world. It is the way you react and respond to whatever life brings. An attitude that creates joy is one in which you interpret what happens to you through the filter of joy. Your attitude is expressed in the words you use when you talk to yourself.
An old man was digging holes in his garden in India. Seeing him hard at work, a neighbor asked him what he was doing. “Planting mango trees”, he answered. “Do you expect to eat fruits from these trees”, the neighbor asked.
“No”, the old man said. “I won’t live long enough to enjoy the fruits, but others will. It occurred to me that, all my life, I have enjoyed mangoes planted by other people. This is my way of showing them gratitude.”
Rejoice in your calling and be faithful to what you are called to be and to do……You may not see the results, but others will. Today we are blessed and nurtured through the faithfulness of others who have gone before us.
Take a moment and just be grateful for the many faithful people in your life. They have left mangoes for you and it is up to you now to leave mangoes for others……Rejoice in the memory of all who have left mangoes for you! Share your joy with those around you…leave a few mangoes for others!
One who is transformed by the Gospel values will come to know Emmanuel, God-with-us. This is our hope and the real source of joy. Our hope is rooted in the unconditional love of God for each of us. God never gives up on us. God’s love is everlasting, steadfast and unconditional. We are constantly challenged to live optimistic and joyful lives.
Be joyful and bring a bit of joy to someone today!
Fr. Gus Tharappel,msfs