The Disciples’ Joy
Spiritual author Jean Catoir in his humorous book, Enjoy the Lord. A Guide to Contemplation, says: “We were made for happiness and we alone among created beings have the capacity for laughter… From our earliest days we were taught in religion class that our purpose was ultimately to be happy with God in this life and forever in the next. If only the teachers had spent more time telling us how. Saint Thomas Aquinas started in the right direction with this piece of wisdom: ‘The end of education is contemplation.’ I like the definition of contemplation that describes it as ‘the enjoyment of God.’ I do not believe the enjoyment of God should be left to monks and nuns in monasteries. We should have some fun too,” (p. X).
Our life consists of sadness and joy and Jesus recognizes this. That is why in today’s gospel reading, He tells His disciples that after the Resurrection they shall see Him again. And He adds: “And your hearts will rejoice, and no one will take your joy away from you,” (v. 22). These words are also true to us. Whatever our trials, we can always find strength, consolation and yes an abiding joy in the thought that our Lord is forever happy and wants us to have a joy no one can take from us.
You know we have pursued joy in every avenue imaginable. Some of us have successfully found it while others have not. Perhaps it would be easier to describe where joy cannot be found according to The Bible Friend, (Turning Point May, 1993):
Not in Unbelief. Voltaire was an infidel of the most pronounced type. He wrote: “I wish I had never been born.”
Not in Pleasure. Lord Byron lived a life of pleasure if anyone did. He wrote: “The worm, the canker and grief are mine alone.”
Not in Money. Jay Gould, the American millionaire, had plenty of that. When dying, he said: “I suppose I am the most miserable man on earth.”
Not in Position and Fame. Lord Beaconsfield enjoyed more than his share of both. He wrote: “Youth is a mistake; manhood a struggle; old age is a regret.”
Not in Military Glory. Alexander the Great conquered the known world in his day. Having done so, he wept in his tent, before he said, “There are no more worlds to conquer.”
Where then is real joy found? The answer is simple, in Christ alone.
Many times in our lives, while we are so very busy with the things of this world and go with its flow, we lose the sight of the Lord. And before realizing it we are already plastered all sorts of worldly promises and distractions offering us nothing but confusion.
At the end I would like to share with you this experience of an SVD missionary priest about Jesus’ presence even in every detail of our lives. Travelling with a companion on a deserted road in his mission assignment one day, they passed by a vehicle that was noticeably moving slowly. Assuming the car had mechanical trouble, they stopped and offered assistance. The driver, a fellow missionary (not an SVD), had a flat tire. However, he had no spare tire, so this SVD missionary exclaimed: “What? Running a car in a mountainous area and so remote without a spare tire?” and he said to him: “You know, I was already an hour on the road when I remembered that I left behind my spare tire at the mission house downtown but I said to myself God will provide for my needs.” “And you believe that?” he asked. “Yes!” came the candid reply. “And I assume He sent you.” We laughed but realized the truth of God’s abiding presence even in the smallest detail of our daily life.