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………..
Every day that we wake up is a good day. Every breath that we take is filled with hope for a better day. Every word that we speak is a chance to change what is bad into something good….every moment of the day brings new opportunities and possibilities.
May this moment and all other coming moments open new doors for you and may God bless you with wisdom and courage to walk in faith, as you continue your journey of life!
If you are beginning this meditation, you have reason to rejoice and be grateful. You are awake and you are blessed with another day and you are with those who share your faith and your prayer. So, rejoice and say, “thank you”, it’s another day, it’s another opportunity, it’s another gift…thank you!
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.
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, Life and Love.
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.
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. We do know that it will happen in doo time, God’s time.
On our earth the Kingdom of God is already present in mystery: it is and it is not yet. It is the beyond that is within! One who is transformed by the Gospel values will come to know the “beyond that is within”. 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.
Jesus said: “All this I tell you so that my joy may be yours and your joy may be complete” (John 15:11). 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”.
Joyfulness springs from our belief in an infinitely generous God who continues to fill our cup till it overflows. This could be better understood in the language of a devotee, ” I asked God for a glass of water, He gave me an ocean, I asked for a grain of sand, He gave me a beach and I asked for a piece of wood and He gave me a forest.”
St. Francis de Sales advises us, “Do not look forward to what might happen tomorrow, the same everlasting Father who cares for you today, will take care of you tomorrow and every day. Either He will shield you from suffering or he will give you unfailing strength to bear it. Be, at peace, then and put aside all anxious thoughts and imagination.”
Joyfulness is that virtue that enables us to accept each moment of the day as coming from the Lord and the profound faith that we have only the present moment to live our lives. As Francis de Sales puts it, “Be what you are and be that well, to serve the Master Craftsman whose handiwork we are”. We have meditated on this thought a few times in the past.
Joyfulness is an inner power, strength of our will and a gift of Grace. St. Francis de Sales advises us, “Deal gently and lovingly with your heart, raising it up when it falls and longing ardently for its perfection.”
Joyfulness springs from living in truthfulness, patience and perseverance. St. Francis de Sales instructs us, “It matters little how one begins, provided that he be resolved to go on well and to end well”.
Joyfulness springs from meaningful friendships and relationships. St. Francis de Sales says, “Those who live in the world and desire to embrace the true virtue, it is necessary to unite together in holy, sacred friendship.”
Joyfulness springs from the depth of self-knowledge and self-esteem. We are both saints and sinners. St. Francis de Sales says, “Have patience with all things but first with yourself. Never confuse your mistakes with your value as a human being. You’re a perfectly valuable, creative, worthwhile person simply because you exist. And no amount of triumphs or tribulations can ever change that.” Unconditional self-acceptance is at the core of a joyful and serene heart.
Joyfulness springs from optimism. When Goliath went to the Israelites, they thought, “He is so big. We can never kill him”. But David looked at him and thought: “He is so big. I can’t miss him”. St. Francis de Sales emerged from a crisis to an optimistic personality. This optimism made him joyful. He persevered through his challenging life with optimism, gratefully recognizing the abundance of Grace available for our salvation.
Shout joyfully to the Lord, all the earth.
Worship the Lord with gladness;
Come before him with joyful songs.
Know that the Lord is God.
It is He who made us and we are His;
We are His people, the sheep of His pasture. (Ps. 100)
Gratitude showers many blessings. It dissolves negative feelings: anger and jealousy, fear and anxiety, etc. Gratitude deflates the barriers to love and creates joy. When we are happy, we like to make others happy, and this fosters kindness and generosity. Gratitude is a gift to everyone. I believe, that is why Saint Paul urged us to “Rejoice always” and to “Give thanks in all circumstances.”
Dear Lord, where would I be without the gift of my family and friends and all those reliable and dependable people who serve me daily? I thank you today for their presence in my life. I thank you for the gifts you have given to each one. I thank you for the many ways in which they touch my life and make me a joyful person. I thank you for their laughter, their encouragement and their support. I thank you for every experience I have shared with them, whether good or bad, happy or sad, their presence in my life has made me a better person and I am joy-filled and joyful. Thank-you!
Ever loving and faithful God, you continue to bless us with new days and weeks and months and years, with new opportunities and possibilities. You have blessed us and graced us with food to sustain us, work to serve you by serving others, people to love and care for – we thank you. We know that you are a God of mindfulness – you keep us in your heart. That makes us joy-filled and joyful. Your mindfulness is our joy! We rejoice as we begin our day. You gift us with new opportunities and new possibilities. Help us and enable us with your Holy Spirit, the Spirit of Joy to rejoice and to help us others find joy in your provident care.
Help us be mindful of your presence in us, deep in our hearts, among us and around us. In our joy-filled days, help us be grateful for your blessing and grace. In our difficult moments, difficult days, and difficult periods, help us remember that you are our refuge and our strength, our comfort and our safe shelter. Bless us, bless our day, bless our work, bless those we meet, bless those who love and serve us and bless those who do not love us. Grace us that we may make this a joyful day for us and for all we meet!
Fr. Gus Tharappel, msfs