A mother was having problems with her teenage daughter who was spending all her allowance money on perfume. The mother asked one day, "Why do you have to spend all your allowance money on this awful perfume?” She added, "I can smell it a mile away." The daughter then replied, "This perfume is called gorgeous, and every time I wear it, I feel gorgeous." Shaking her head, the mother responded, "Why can’t you wear a perfume called 'Joy.'"
Well, it doesn’t work like that. You cannot extract joy from a bottle.
There is a wonderful story in the Gospel where Jesus was visiting his friends Lazarus, Martha, and Mary. Martha was so busy preparing the meal that she criticized Mary for not helping her. Mary wasn’t helping Martha for she was enjoying the Lord’s presence, and Jesus let Martha know that Mary had chosen the better part (Luke 10:42).
There is a time and place for everything. Mary was spending quality time with the Lord. This is the better part we need to continually cultivate so that we are not carried away by today’s consumerism, competition, and fanaticism to get ahead of others — at all costs. Look at what happened some time ago when a woman, in her haste to buy something at a bargain price, pepper-sprayed another shopper in a supermarket somewhere in the United States.
We easily forget to enjoy the simple things of life. The Gospel is also called the good news. It gives energy to broken hearts, rejuvinates the prematurely old, restores life to arid souls, and it helps us to find joy in everything. This joy comes from within, welling up from the deep recesses of the human soul. It is not to be achieved by living on the surface, but by penetrating the deep needs of our souls through the grace of God.
Joy is not the same as a sense of achievement over something we may have created through our own efforts. All our achievements in life are, ultimately, transitory.
Neither is joy the same as happiness because happiness is only a byproduct; it lasts while the good times last, but it too will be blown away — like dust in the wind.
Joy is different because it is a permanent quality of the soul. It manifests itself in an unlimited variety of experiences and new awakenings. Our renewed spirits can shake with great joy at the many experiences of new life: the power and the glory of God’s word in Scripture; the beauty and interconnectedness of all of God’s creation; the joy on the faces of children, and married couples celebrating their union together; the joy of dedicated people living unselfish lives; the awesome wonders of nature and of animals leaping and dancing with unrestrained enthusiasm; the playfulness of little children shouting and running on sandy shores; the beauty of faith in the eyes of believers who neither fear life or death.
This is the joy the Lord imparts to us: the joy of the soul which he calls "complete." Nothing can rob you of this joy. You can carry it with you wherever you go, and you can experience it wherever you are.
There’s a story about a young navy ensign who was given the task of preparing his ship to launch. He achieved everything at breakneck speed, and had his vessel in ship-shape as he blew the whistle to set sail. He was feeling very proud of himself when a sailor delivered a message to him from the captain of the ship. He presumed it was a message of congratulations, but when he opened the envelope he saw it was a telegram from the captain, "You have performed everything with great speed and efficiency, but you forgot about the most important thing; you should have checked to see if the captain was aboard."
As you celebrate what took place at Easter, you might be busy with many things, but don’t forget to check if Christ is on board. You are celebrating the promise of his joy in your life. Do not be so busy as to fail to enjoy God’s presence in the little things; in the ordinary experiences of every day.
"This is the day the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it.” (Psalm 118:24).
Fr. Hugh Duffy holds a Ph.D. from the University of Hull, England. Born in Donegal, Ireland, he was ordained in 1966 in Dublin, Ireland. He is pastor emeritus of Sacred Heart Catholic Church, Okeechobee, Florida, where he served for 30 years and built a new Church, debt-free, in 2013. He founded Christian Community Action (CCA) in Ireland that built housing for seniors, a sheltered workshop and bakery for people with disabilities, a community center, and an addiction treatment center. Since 2013 he has traveled across America as an Outreach Priest for Cross Catholic Outreach, Inc. Duffy’s recent book, “What is This Thing Called Faith?” is a collection of meditations with reflections for readers on the sayings of Jesus. For more of his reports — Click Here Now.
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