Joy is from God

There is something deeply mysterious about joy. It is deeper than mere laughter, it is more than an emotion. Joy seems to combine both serenity and excitement along with a touch of humor or laughter. It seems to come as pure gift, emerging sometimes in an instant, sometimes as a gentle tide welling up. Perhaps its context is good news, or a humorous moment, Perhaps it exists with the satisfaction of a completed task or a reunion after an absence. It does not seem to be a learned response at all. It just is, it’s just there! Even the youngest infants show joy. It comes with the soul and is there from the start.

What is joy? It is the gift of God. We can only receive it, not cause it. It is gift.

I know that, in places, the Scriptures seem to command joy as though we could cause it. But notice those same Scriptures put that command in a context. For example, we are to not to “joy” but  to “rejoice.” That is, we are to recall and revisit the joy the Lord has given us. Elsewhere the Scriptures say “Be joyful” but then add “in the Lord.” For joy is of God and comes from him.

Joy is an unmistakable foretaste of heaven. It leaps down from heaven and draws us up there for a time. For the Christian, joy should grow as we journey ever closer to that place where “joys will never end.”

Joy to you as you watch this remarkable video and glimpse the joy of God on infant faces:

  • Ex ore infantium, Deus, perfecisti laudem
  • (From the mouths of infants you have perfected praise O God)
  • Psalm 8:3

 

God Loves You. He Even Likes You.

Every now and then we need to be reminded that God really loves us. Some of us struggle with this notion especially when we have sinned or experienced a shortcoming. Some times we don’t feel very lovable. But consider this:

  1. Before you were ever formed in you mother’s womb God knew you and loved you (Jer. 1:4)
  2. God knit you together in your mother’s womb (Ps 139:13)
  3. You are fearfully wonderfully made (Ps 139:14)
  4. Every one of your days and deeds were written in God’s book before one of them ever came to be. (Ps. 139:16)

So God knew you and planned for you. You cannot earn his love you already have it. In fact you had it before you were born, before you had done anything. As for your sins God knew all about them too. Sin does not cancel God’s love but it does limit and ultimately sever our acceptance of that love. “Ah but what about Hell?” you might say. Yes a great tragedy, but do you suppose that God’s love does not extend there also? After all God does not destroy the souls in hell. He still sustains and provides for them. He loves them still. It is they who do not love him or His kingdom and he will not force it on them.

So face it God loves you, he even likes you. He does not love you because you deserve it. He loves you for “no good reason.” His love cannot be explained in any human terms. He loves you simply because he does, because he is Love. If you have never experienced this love, get on  your knees and ask for this necessary gift.

Maybe these videos will help. The first one is a beautiful musical reflection by Don Francisco “I’ll Never Let Go of Your Hand” (available at iTunes).  The Second one I have posted before about a young firefighter who powerfully  experiences the unmerited love that God has for him.

What is Distinctive About the Biblical Revelation of God?

There is much talk today about how we, despite our theological differences are all really worshipping the same God. Is that true? We might like to think that under all this diversity is really a unity but the fact is that there are some pretty radical differences in the understanding of God. So radical that I do not think we can really affirm wishful slogans like the one above. There is only one true God but many have imagined other gods who are not God, surely not God as he reveals Himself in the Bible.

Another common problem today is to presume that the Biblical insights about God are not really unique but merely borrowed from other ancient cultures. Zeitgeist the movie makes this claim. But the truth is that the Biblical tradition, while having some similarities to other things ancient, departs radically from most ancient and modern philosophies. The Biblical Revelation really IS unique and transcends many Ancient and modern errors.

Here are two videos by Fr. Robert Barron that make these points well.