May 15, 2015
Jesus told His disciples, “I will see you again, and your hearts will rejoice,
and no one will take your joy away from you.” Jn_16:20-23
They say that happiness is fleeting, but joy is eternal. It’s funny how sometimes we can get so frustrated with life, or other people’s attitudes, that we just want to let it all go and let loose. And that’s a normal emotion. Even Jesus got so frustrated with what was going on in the Temple, that he expelled the sales people and turned over their tables.
As long as those outbursts of frustration don’t take over our entire lives; and as long as no-one gets hurt in the process, it really IS OK to ‘let go’ every once in a while, instead of holding it all in.
Today we heard of one such encounter that Paul experienced with the Jews in Corinth. You see, as Paul was completing, this second missionary trip to Europe, from his home base in Antioch, Syria, he ran into opposition by some of the Jews who lived there. They just did not want to believe that Jesus was the promised messiah, the Christ that their Scriptures prophesied about.
And yet, they were stifled by the political rulers, because they were not able to expel Paul from their town. We can just imagine how their internal frustration must have grown over time. So when this new Roman Senator, Gallio, who was the brother of the famous philosopher, Seneca, finally came into power, in 51 AD, the Jews reveled at the thought that here was their big chance to eliminate Paul and his teachings, once and for all.
Needless to say, Gallio didn’t buy it! Which was the final straw that broke
the camel’s back. The Jews went ballistic, and as we heard, in a fit of rage, they ravaged their own leader, who most likely advised them against attacking Paul in the first place.
You see, those Jews became so focused on being ANTI-Christian, that they actually became anti-Jewish in the process, by breaking their own commandment of loving God and their neighbor. It was the same thing that happened to the Sanhedrin, who condemned Jesus. And it’s the same thing that is happening in our own day with other radical “religious” groups. And if we’re not careful, it is the same thing that can happen to any one of us, if we keep our focus too strongly on the “anti” rather than on the “pro.” We can be so focused on being ANTI-bad, that we forget to be PRO-good and actually become the very bad we’re fighting against, ourselves.
You see, just as Jesus taught, Paul didn’t let those negative Jews overwhelm him. Instead, he shook the dust from his feet and went on, teaching and preaching to the Gentiles, who were open to listening and believing. Paul’s Happiness may have been fleeting, but his Joy – truly was eternal.
Jesus likened our trials and frustrations, in this world, to a woman in labor. He told us that there will clearly be pain in this life, because evil will continue. Because, like those unbelieving Jews, there will always be people who refuse the “pro,” for the temporary thrill of being ANTI – everything.
But we CAN rest assured in this – life of frustrations, because we know that
– it truly is JOY that we have to look forward to. And it’s that JOY-of-Jesus that no-one can ever take away from us. So, yes, those sometimes short, moments of Happiness may be fleeting, but our JOY with Jesus is ETERNAL!
And, Praise be to God, for the grace of knowing, for the grace of our Faith!
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