Luke 10: 17-24
Jb 42: 1-3. 5-6. 12-17/ Ps 119: 66, 71, 75, 91, 125, 130
Do not rejoice that the spirits submit to you, but rejoice that your names are written in heaven.
I asked as I knelt down to pray,
“These blessings, why do I deserve?”
I rejoiced when I heard Him say,
“Because it’s the Lord God you serve.”
The seventy-two returned with joy, saying, “Lord, in your name even the demons submit to us!” He said to them, “I watched Satan fall from heaven like a flash of lightning. See, I have given you authority to tread on snakes and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy; and nothing will hurt you. Yet do not rejoice that the spirits submit to you, but rejoice that your names are written in heaven.” At that very moment, He rejoiced in the Holy Spirit, and said, “I praise you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because you have hidden these things from the wise and learned, and revealed them to little children. Yes, Father, for this was your good pleasure.” (Luke 10:17-20).
Most of the Protestants and born-again Christians we meet exude an aura of joy and gladness of spirit that is in stark contrast to the solemnity and seemingly gloomy atmosphere that we find in most Catholic churches. Perhaps this is one of the main reasons why many Catholics have joined Christian churches other than their own, because the spirit of joy is sorely lacking in our masses and worship assemblies.
There are three major reasons for this absence of joy in one’s spiritual life. The first is lack of gratitude for the blessings in our life that we just take for granted. In most cases, we only realize the value of something when we have already lost it. Take our health, for instance. Lack of gratitude for this precious gift of life makes a person take regular exercise, balanced diet and a healthy lifestyle for granted; he indulges in harmful substances like alcohol and cigarettes with no regard for their long-term ill effects. When he is eventually paralyzed by stroke or stricken with emphysema, it is the only time he stops smoking and drinking, and rues the loss of his good health. A healthy body belongs to a very happy and appreciative heart indeed.
The second reason why the gift of joy may not be present in one’s life is the absence of ministry in it. The pursuit of wealth, influence and prominence in society has never achieved true joy in living. It is only in service to God and to others that people discover peace of mind and gladness of heart. Joy is the fruit as well as the fuel of faithful service. The author, Joseph Campbell, said the path of bliss lies in looking for ways that we can be of more service to those around us, giving joy both to ourselves and to those we are serving. It is God we serve for all the blessings He has given us.
Finally, joy and gladness of heart will always be a part of our life because we have the gift of hope – for the salvation that awaits us at the end of our earthly journey. Every follower of Christ bears in his heart joy in the fact that his own name is already written in heaven. This is the reason why we cannot help but “overflow in praise of God” to men. If we talk about Him often, it is not so much because it is our duty as because God is our delight. May the praising of God be our first order of the day when we get up in the morning. “It is only right and just!”
“I rejoice in following your statutes as one rejoiced in great riches . . . I delight in your decrees; I will not neglect your word” (Psalm 119:14,16).
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