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 was like “every day is your birthday.”
Mull that over! Happy birthday every day. Happy Easter. For those who are holy, that always follows Calvary. 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.
And so we have a lesson for the day: joy. Holy Week is happy when it is joined to Heaven.
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.” There is no week like Holy Week to connect with Him.
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 the faces of saints like Padre Pio (who “suffered” the stigmata), or the way John Paul II glowed (even to the “bitter” end).
In fact, with Jesus, there is no bitterness and no end. There is no fear. Fear comes when we are not entirely ready for eternity (it is our soul letting us know).
Find joy now. Find joy in inner cleanliness. You can not have anger and joy at the same time. They are like water and oil. Hate is crude oil. When you hate, you separate yourself from God, Who is love (along with joy).
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!
Live joy instead of irritation. To have joy is to get rid of anger. 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.
We can’t have joy if we are not in balance. Another key word here: having everything arrayed in the right way. We tilt away from happiness when we have too much or too little of something. Ask the Holy Spirit for the “spirit of balance.”
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. Cooperating instead of competing is a hallmark of spiritual maturity. 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!
Are you having trouble being happy? Do you still feel in competition? Do you begrudge others?
If so, you may have to remove pride from your soul. Do that this week. 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. Meanwhile, note how hard it is — how much your spirit resists — praying for the arrogant.
That’s what steals joy: thinking we are above others and have to have material things, when we should be imagining instead our home in Heaven (where the party will be).
Get out from under the yoke of worldly obligation. Go out and experience joy. Let the Holy Spirit fill you. When the Holy Spirit comes, there is contentment — and only then. Pride darkens. Joy brightens — illuminates.
“Blessed is the man who trusts in the Lord, whose hope is the Lord. He is like a tree planted beside the waters that stretches out its roots to the stream: It fears not the heat when it comes, its leaves stay green; in the year of drought it shows no distress, but still bears fruit” (Jeremiah 17: 5-10).
Listen closely to that: even in chastisement, there will be protection (for the humble).
Now follow it up with the responsorial psalm:
“Blessed the man who follows not the counsel of the wicked nor walks in the way of sinners, nor sits in the company of the insolent.”
Develop humility and be “born again.” We mean that in a different way. We mean that with humility comes the joy that introduces us — births us — into Heaven, where those birthdays that are without end.
[resources: Healing books]
1 Have mercy on me, O God, according to thy steadfast love;
according to thy abundant mercy blot out my transgressions.
2 Wash me thoroughly from my iniquity,
and cleanse me from my sin!
3 For I know my transgressions,
and my sin is ever before me.
4 Against thee, thee only, have I sinned,
and done that which is evil in thy sight,
so that thou art justified in thy sentence
and blameless in thy judgment.
5 Behold, I was brought forth in iniquity,
and in sin did my mother conceive me.
6 Behold, thou desirest truth in the inward being;
therefore teach me wisdom in my secret heart.
7 Purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean;
wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow.
8 Fill me with joy and gladness;
let the bones which thou hast broken rejoice.
9 Hide thy face from my sins,
and blot out all my iniquities.
10 Create in me a clean heart, O God,
and put a new and right spirit within me.
11 Cast me not away from thy presence,
and take not thy holy Spirit from me.
12 Restore to me the joy of thy salvation,
and uphold me with a willing spirit.
13 Then I will teach transgressors thy ways,
and sinners will return to thee.
14 Deliver me from bloodguiltiness,O God,
thou God of my salvation,
and my tongue will sing aloud of thy deliverance.
15 O Lord, open thou my lips,
and my mouth shall show forth thy praise.
16 For thou hast no delight in sacrifice;
were I to give a burnt offering, thou wouldst not be pleased.
17 The sacrifice acceptable to God is a broken spirit;
a broken and contrite heart, O God, thou wilt not despise.
18 Do good to Zion in thy good pleasure;
rebuild the walls of Jerusalem,
19 then wilt thou delight in right sacrifices,
in burnt offerings and whole burnt offerings;
then bulls will be offered on thy altar. (Psalm 51)