*Good News Reflection*
Friday of the Second Week of Easter
April 24, 2009
Ps 27:1, 4, 13-14
*Joy under trial*
There's a line in the story from today's first reading that does not make sense: They left rejoicing because they had been found worthy to suffer dishonor for the sake of Jesus. How could anyone derive joy from being misjudged and dishonored? Even for Christ's sake!
When I'm on trial, being judged by others, criticized, misunderstood, or rejected, and my reputation's under attack, I want to grumble about it, to say the least. What if someone in a position of authority were to order me to stop distributing these Good News reflections because he doesn't approve of non-clergy writing them? Well, I don't think joy is what I'd be feeling.
The fact is, no matter where we live, we're all on trial for our faith every day. Some of my readers live in countries where Christians are literally being persecuted like the first apostles. They face real danger if they're caught reading this. However, who hasn't been put on trial for their faith? Only those whose faith is so invisible that it has no impact.
We are whipped with words. We're hauled into the court of people's minds where we're unfairly judged and prosecuted. We're sentenced to a change of subject so that we cannot freely talk about Jesus. It happens when we speak up for children who are in danger of being aborted. It happens when we compassionately embrace homosexuals while promoting chaste living without sexual activity. It happens when we use the gifts and talents and education the Lord has given us when others think we're not qualified.
Think of any time when someone took away your freedom to do what God called you to do. Did you feel full of joy — or angrily frustrated? So, how DID the early apostles find joy as they left the Sanhedrin?
The joy of persecution comes from being so in love with God that nothing else really matters. When we're more in love with our reputations, the disapproval of others makes us miserable. Joy comes from making God our focus instead of what happens to us. And by keeping our eyes on Jesus, we remember that even our crosses become resurrections. Even our denied freedoms are new opportunities for divine intervention, because God cannot be stopped and his will cannot be deferred for long. THAT is a huge reason to feel joyful.
It's not easy to keep our focus entirely on God. It takes great effort and continual, conscious decision. The more we work at it, the more we will enable our trust in God, and that's when we experience amazing joy. With the Holy Spirit's help, it's not impossible at all. And if we feel even just a wee bit of joy, we can ask Jesus to multiply it and he will, just like he did with the bread and fish in today's Gospel reading.
© 2009 by Terry A. Modica
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