On Being a Joyful Man
Want happiness? Eat bacon! But that which abides in man and gives him fulfilling purpose is not happiness as it is very fleeting. Brothers, it is joy that we should attempt to obtain while we live. As a father, my children give me joy and happiness; however, if my infant daughter wakes up crying throughout the night, I am not happy. But even though I am upset due to the lack of sleep I still have joy because I am holding my daughter and trying to comfort her. However, the joy I get from my children is not from them alone but rather what God issues through them to me. For all men have an innate desire to be connected to something greater than himself even if he does not know God – in reality, this is God’s desire to reach out to us by creating us as both physical and spiritual creatures. In other words, God meant to be the source of all joy in your life. Therefore, to take your first step toward a joyful life, you must turn away from your disordered passions and turn to God with all you have. It is God who is the author of truth and life, and it is truth and life that make joy possible. For without truth, one cannot know what he ought so that man may live well and without life only death remains. Remind yourself this Advent season that your death is eminent. The end of our lives are but a blink of an eye from this very moment and the truth of eternity will then lay before us. Is this not the reason why we are to strive toward holiness? How then do you live your life? Do you complain? Do you fight with your neighbor? Do you feed those that hunger? Do you visit the sick or the imprisoned? Do you clothe the naked? Do you instruct the ignorant? Do you show mercy? Do you love God before all else and love your neighbor as yourself?
My friends, joy flows from obeying God. When we hear a good decree from a leader of our country, we celebrate at the sound of it. So how much more should we not celebrate the great decrees of God to do good and obey His commandments? Joy lies in giving not receiving. Sure, if someone was to give to you something that shows great generosity, this may give you joy for the sake that you understand what it means for someone to love unconditionally. But to pour yourself out for another for the sake of Christ is what I am referring to; this is the joy that which we must all strive to accomplish each day we take a breath. As I mentioned before, your death is always but a blink of an eye and every breath given to you is by His permission. So how can you not be filled with joy at that simple fact? Or how about when you pray? Have you ever stopped to actually think of the words Jesus gave us in the ‘Our Father’ prayer? It was St. Teresa who once fell into a deep ecstasy because she meditated on the words Our Father so much so that she could not finish the prayer. This is the joy that we must carry within us as St. Peter said, “But sanctify the Lord Christ in your hearts, being ready always to satisfy every one that asketh you a reason of that hope which is in you.” – 1 Peter 3:15.
So don’t be unwilling to do what Christ commanded us as we were made not only in His likeness and image but also sent forth to love others as He loved us. Let your joy come from Him who is eternal and forever and your joy will never falter nor will the wellspring of the happiness that will follow ever sour. Amen