Rejoice always, says St. Paul in the Second Reading. The natural instinct might be to say: “Rejoice over what?? I’m struggling economically, the country is going to hell in a hand basket, the world is an insane asylum, my health is lousy, my kids aren’t going to Church”…and on and on it goes. Oh sure, there’s plenty of reasons not to rejoice and those reasons are very easy to find. Turn to any TV news channel and you’ll hear all about it.
But Pope Francis has some good advice. He said that the real joy of a Christian comes not from what our lives are right now – but from what Jesus promised to us. Be courageous in suffering, he said, and remember that after that suffering, the Lord will come. When the hardships are over, joy will come, after the dark comes the sun. Pope Francis concluded by praying that God “give us all this joy in hope.”
What’s the antidote for all this real and self-made gloominess? St. Paul has it: “In all circumstances give thanks.” No matter what your life situation is, there are always reasons to give thanks. Even the most jaded and cynical individual can find those reasons; if nothing else they can give thanks that they are alive and their brains are active enough so they can be jaded and cynical!
Bringing in the First Reading, we are invited to rejoice in a God who wants to be the “joy of our souls” and who has clothed us in salvation and wrapped us with a cloak of justice. What an amazing image to think that we have a God who loves us so deeply that he enfolds us in the very salvation we need. We are the heartbroken God has come to heal. We are the poor who are receiving the glad tidings and we are the captives being offered liberty.
Remember: you are the one who chooses your outlook on life.
Love deeply, pray faithfully, laugh often!