A boy who had many experiences with angels as he was dying related Heaven to his doctor in an interesting way. Is Heaven like earth, he was asked by the doctor? “Yes,” said the boy, “but it’s perfect. It’s like earth, but we finally get to live our lives without worry and have everything we want.” He said the angels had granted him glimpses of paradise and that it is like “every day is your birthday.” One might add: or like Christmas.
Mull that over! Christmas every day. We begin to live Heaven on earth, they tell us, when we aim for joy. “Remember, pray without ceasing,” a woman who also experienced death says she was told (again, we presume, by angels). “Play, love, laugh, live for the joy of it. Have fun. Happiness is holy.”
And holiness makes us happy.
So we have a lesson for the day.
We hear much about peace — how a feeling of well-being and tranquility serves as a marker of spiritual progress. To this we can add happiness. Joy is a sign that we are on the right path. Live it now. Taste Heaven while on earth! Christ is “joy to the world.”
Yes, we suffer in life. All of us. But it says in Scripture that sorrow is turned into joy (John 16:20) and when we love God with all our hearts there is joy even in the trials of life; we note the huge smile on saints like Padre Pio (who constantly “suffered” the stigmata, and worse), or the way Saint John Paul II glowed even to the “bitter” end.
In fact, with Jesus, there is no bitterness. There also is no fear. Fear comes when we are not entirely prepared for eternity (it is our soul letting us know).
Find joy now. Find joy in inner cleanliness. That means getting rid of any semblance of pride — which is the key joy-inhibitor. It means dispensing with hatred, debate. You can not hate and have joy at the same time. Water and oil. Hate is crude oil. To have joy is to love without condition. When you look at it, everything and everyone in life is a test of love. That neighbor who irritates you and deserves rebuke is there to test your willingness to love without condition and transcend irritations that will seem so minor afterwards! That e-mail that tries to provoke you? Soar beyond it!
Live joy instead of irritation.
Anger — as much as sadness — is the opposite of joy. When we are angry we are mad, and when we turn the word “mad” around, we get “dam”: we are plugging up the pathways of joy. To have joy is to get rid of jealousy. Envy is wanting what someone else has, and when we are wanting we are not filled with joy. Don’t desire what is not intended for you! To have joy is to stop competing. Halt the race to get more than the next person. That robs both peace and joy. Instead, cooperate. Wish everyone the best. Find joy in their joy!
Remember what it says in Scripture: “God resists the proud.” If there are mysterious roadblocks in your life, it could be pride. It may be anger. It may be wanting the wrong path. Get out from under the yoke of worldly obligation. Go out and experience happiness in everything and anything. Let the Holy Spirit fill you. When the Holy Spirit comes, there is contentment. When you have the Holy Spirit, you are with Mary and Joseph gazing upon the Babe in the manger.