Friday, August 12, 2016
From where does your joy come?
It is surely true that while this world is generally not joyless, I believe we would all agree that the joys of this mortal life are neither sustained nor as full as we hope and desire. There are no lives immune from pain and suffering, no one who has not endured what he did not deserve as well as rightfully bearing the fruits of his own wrongful choices. In most joyful moments, we pray that this joy may extend even as in our most sorrowful moments we pray for them to pass quickly. Such is the nature of joy that comes either from our moods within or our circumstances in life.
For just as surely as the world may bestow joy, it may steal it away again. If our joy comes from the world, then the world controls us. What it gives, it can take away. This is the constant threat the world holds over us and we are kept in subjection by our addiction to joy that cannot be satisfied by the world but must be fed.
Our joy comes from the Lord. That is the promise of the Christian faith. It is a promise enfleshed of the Virgin by the Holy Spirit. It is not words that string us along (like the empty promises of the world) but the Word made flesh who dwelt among us full of grace, truth, and glory. Our joy comes from the Lord and because the Lord cannot change His mind or lie to us, it is the only joy that is certain.
Our joy comes from the Lord, from the dawn of the morning of love that shines its light unmistakably upon the cross where guilt and shame are removed and full and free forgiveness bestowed. Our joy comes from the Lord, from the waters of baptism that kill what was dead and give new life in Christ that death can no longer threaten or kill. Our joy comes from the Lord, from the blessed voice of the Good Shepherd who speaks to guide and whose staff protects us from predators without and wandering hearts within. Our joy comes from the Lord, from the food of His flesh for the life of the world and His blood that cleanses us from all sin (the bread of heaven that comes down from above and bestows what it signifies). Our joy comes from the Lord, from the grave whose sting is stolen and who must give up its claim upon the bodies our Lord has destined to be transformed like unto His own glorious body. Our joy comes from the Lord.
If our joy comes from the Lord and His Word endures forever, then sorrows cannot steal it, guilt cannot diminish it, disappointment cannot call it into question, and death cannot end it. This is why we come before the cross and look into the suffering that our Lord endured for us. His joy is in us; His joy in us enabled Him to drink the cup of suffering and to die the death that was ours to die. His joy is in us and our joy is in Him. It is this blessed truth that holds us in the firm grasp of joy while the world fails us and suffering haunts us and it is this joy that we grasp today to know it in full in everlasting life.