Faith · Religious life · spirituaility

July 7th – The choice to rejoice

Scripture Reflection. . .

Fourteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time

First Reading: Isaiah 66: 10-14

Responsorial Psalm: Psalm 66 “Let all the earth cry out to God with joy.”

Second Reading: Galatians 6:14-18

Gospel: Luke 10:1-12;17-20

The word “rejoice” show up six times in the Scriptures chosen for today, not to mention the references to joy. Thus, it might be good to reflect on the invitation offered to us in the repetition.

Notice in Isaiah, the people have apparently returned to a destroyed Jerusalem after a lengthy exile. They are striving to rebuild the temple along with their lives and their faith. They have lost everything and in the midst of seeming despair they are given a promise of abundance and comfort. They are compared to a vulnerable helpless baby cared for by a loving mother. They are invited to rejoice!

In Luke’s Gospel Jesus sends disciples out with nothing except a companion. They even receive the foreboding message that they are being sent out as lambs among wolves! Yet they return rejoicing.

St. Paul writes of a “new creation” as he describes his discovery that in the light of Christ’s self-giving love nothing else matters. This faith will be the rock he holds on to and rejoices in, even in his suffering.

Joy is much deeper than happiness. Joy is not dependent on our situations, whereas happiness is a passing emotion. Thus there can be rejoicing in good times and in bad; in moments of peace as well as in turmoil. Like love, joy is a choice.  If we continue to choose  to hold on to joy in our life circumstances we will discover many reasons to rejoice. In fact when all the stuff (material, emotional, psychological) in our lives that we cling to is removed we begin to see the true source of joy.

The disciples were told not so much to rejoice in their accomplishments achieved through faith, but to rejoice that their “names are written in heaven.” The message is always about the kingdom of heaven – a kingdom that is “at hand.”  It is here now, in this present moment; it is for us. It is a kingdom of love and mercy free of temporal constraints – it is always available; our eternal mother who holds us close, providing more than we can imagine. This is our cause for joy, thus we can choose to rejoice.

In Our Lives as Sisters of the Redeemer . . .

In our history and spirituality  there is a foundational Scripture verse, Galatians 2:20:

I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.

This is our cause for rejoicing and why one of the hallmarks of our lives is joy.  It strips away everything that is excess and exposes what is essential. It reveals the kingdom of God.

We also rejoiced in the arrival of our Sister Tadea from Tanzania. She comes among us as part of her sabbatical after serving many years in congregational leadership. Her presence is that of joy.

In Your Life . . .

Recall an experience in which you held on to a deep joy rather than letting external circumstances influence your life.

What helped you  or made it possible to rejoice?

What made it difficult to or hindered you from choosing joy?

What choice can you make today that will give you reason to rejoice?

Blessings on your week!