“God made us for joy. God is joy, and the joy of living reflects the original joy that God felt in creating us.” St. John Paul II
I recently had some great news and it seemed to come all at once. We speak often in our faith that we wait for God to act and that we would like something great to happen. Once it does happen, we are so overwhelmed by God’s goodness towards us that we can be in awe of such greatness. When the Lord presents us with such beauty, often I do not know what do to. It is all a mystery. For me, when such great things happen, I am so in shock that I cannot fathom it. I recently changed jobs. It came as a big surprise the way it all panned out. I have worked with some difficult people. It is disheartening to work with such tough characters; however, we cannot look at our failures and limitations, but we must continue to look at Christ.
“Let us ask ourselves today: are we open to ‘God’s surprises?’ Pope Francis
On Divine Mercy Sunday, I read about the feast days of two obscure saints. St. Mary Elizabeth Hesselblad was a Swedish woman who was raised Protestant. She found herself in New York City in the late 1800s and felt drawn to Catholicism. She entered the Church in 1902. She worked to revitalize the Brigittine order in both Sweden and Italy. Sweden was not so receptive to Catholics at that time. She saved Jewish people during WWII and was named, “Righteous Among the Nations.” Such a great story from someone who was called by God. St. Mary spoke of “prayer, work, and sacrifice. The human heart can aspire to nothing greater.”
Another saint that struck me was St. Benedetto Menni. He was a real Samaritan according to the Saint of the Day biography. He cared for the aged, abandoned children, those with polio and those who suffered from mental illness. Reading about these two saints made me think more about how God works. I was so impressed by their commitment in such a humble way. They did not have grandiose plans but put all their trust in our Lord.
“I plead with you! Never, ever give up on hope, never doubt, never tire, and never become discouraged. Be not afraid.” St. John Paul
We are made for joy. However, it is important not to measure joy by what we think will bring us happiness. I would submit that joy seems to creep up on us and surprise us. My experience tells me that God works in His own way. I want God to be pleased with the work that I do. I pray for it. It is easy to give up and surrender to discouragement. My experience tells me that I need to continue to keep my gaze on Christ. There is nowhere else to look. On a recent visit to the Carmelite Cloister near my home, the sisters reminded me that even the joy we experience is only a ‘faint glimmer’ of the joy that awaits us all. This is the joy that only Christ can give us. I cannot give into temptation or fatigue. God will give us the strength to carry on wherever He puts us. In the end, the joy that we will find will be great.
“In God’s marvelous plan, Divine Providence often uses the tiniest twigs to do good works.” Pier Giorgio Frassati