What makes me happy and, in particular, what makes me joyful? I can point to specific things like my husband, my children, my grandchildren; also the whisper of water receding from a sandy beach, the rustle of wind gliding through leaves, moonlight shining in my window. These are things I love and want to have close at all times. But, what is the root of joy? What is it that brings me into communion with the things that bring beauty and, therefore, joy into my life?
When I embraced the realization that having Christ in my heart is the doorway to joy, my appreciation of life was heightened and enlarged. And, it isn’t just the good that is heightened. There will be times when suffering will also bring a sense of joy into my life. Suffering brings us most intimately into contact with our earthly finite life and yet also an understanding of the infinity of life.
Having Christ in my heart allows freedom from fear and while I may not be entirely free of fear, I can recognize it more easily and then choose to manage the object of the fear, to root it out, to reject the fear and embrace it . . .
and, then . . .
I have . . .
St. Pope John XXIII was known for his good humor, his warmth, his patience. He worked toward this goal, embraced it over a lifetime, and held onto it because he acknowledged the need in his human nature (as we all need) the fulfillment that Christ brings into our lives. Jesus always spoke of glad tidings. All of His actions were acts of love for us. Love me as I love you and you will have true love, joy, happiness, fearlessness, suffering (yes), and ME, always ME, in your heart. My eyes opened wide because of this embrace of life and love. I see the smile on a suffering man’s face and I know that the next time I see him I will ask him his name.
I must have done something right when I accepted the call to participate in a domestic mission years ago because these words have taken root in my heart, words spoke by John XXIII 62 years ago. “It must be taught that serenity and joy are not found until we respond generously to our individual duties, using the abundant talents that God has hidden in the spirit and heart of each of us” (from John XXIII’s encyclical, Mater et Magistra, July 14, 1961)
Take away my fears and fill the space left behind with joy and love.