Let us rejoice

By

30 Jan 2019

Jesus is a source of great pleasure and happiness. So good is his presence that we become enamoured with him and determined to seek him all the more.

As I write this, my wife and I await the celebration of our wedding anniversary. When we recall our wedding day we remember so many things – important and inconsequential. The word that sums up these feelings is the same as my wife’s middle name – Joy.

Joy is such a beautiful emotion. You can feel joy. Joy is a perception of happiness or gladness that is deep and brings great peace. When I think of joy I can recollect so many moments; most in the presence of my wife. I could easily tell you of examples, but I could not offer the overwhelming feeling the memory elicits within me.

JOY IN  JESUS

As Christians, Jesus offers us great joy. The people of his time found joy through his physical presence. Today we find great joy in the presence of Jesus as we celebrate the Mass and in his presence in the Eucharist. This joy is more than can be articulated or captured in the written or spoken word.

The word joy is a noun. A name. Joy is defined as a feeling of, or thing, that offers great pleasure or happiness. The definition is limited though. To describe joy one needs examples so we can share the understanding and the fullness of its meaning. In fact, to understand joy a person needs to experience the feeling and only then does one become aware of what joy truly is. Therefore, joy is in fact personal and unique. Fortunately, Jesus can be offered as a universal example of joy.

Consider the word joy’s etymology. Coming from the original Latin form gaudere, meaning to rejoice or be glad, we can develop a deeper awareness of its meaning. Although arguably less profound than joy by definition, the word gaudere is a verb rather than a noun. As such, it offers an inflection or mood that gives an illustration for the reader. Gaudere is an action that describes the emotion joy defines. In the word gaudere, emotion or feeling is taken for granted as it’s the resulting action that is the primary concern. Gaudere leads to an action by rejoicing.

Jesus offers us complete joy. We can find him in the ordinary, spiritual and profound moments of our day. The joy we are offered in his presence can bring us to complete peace with the world and our lives. In line with the modern meaning of the word we find great pleasure and happiness in Jesus. So good is his presence that we become enamoured with him and determined to seek him all the more. In gratitude of this feeling and in line with gaudere the joy we feel compels us to rejoice. In rejoicing we respond. We may celebrate the Mass in a new and profound way. We may evangelise as we go about our day differently. We may in turn give as was given, rather than receive. In a myriad of ways we rejoice, changed by the experience of joy that has been given freely by Jesus.

FIND GOD IN ALL THINGS

Ignatius inspires us to ‘find God in all things’. We can respond to this mission in many ways. Begin with seeking God in the things where you already find joy. When you identify a moment of happiness or joy pause and consider the deeper – the magis. What is there that gives you the intensity of the feeling. Is the source of these moments the same source of all creation and love? What is it that makes these things extraordinary?

In time you may find that seeking God in all things is easy. Although elusive at the beginning you will soon notice that it becomes natural. This is of course because Ignatius was correct; God is in all things. What is revealed to us in moments that bring us joy is that Jesus is present. He is so close we do not see him – unless we look – and that when looking at the world as Ignatius learned to do we are offered endless moments of joy each day. These things lead us to rejoice and offer these insights to others. We become givers of what we have received.

In considering these things we see that joy and gaudere are the same and yet profoundly different. Both are required if we are to understand and describe the depth of meaning of that simple three letter word – joy. 

Each day through Jesus I find joy in many things. In the past 17 years my wife has been one of the primary sources of joy in my life. The relationship we have is truly a three‑way relationship. Together with God we have entered into Creation and have found joy in our three children. All of these things I am truly grateful for and rejoice in. I hope that you also find joy in each day.

Brendan Nicholls is the liturgy coordinator at St Ignatius, Geelong.
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