Joy or sadness? Which do you want more of in your life? Honestly, you have a great deal of influence over the result of the answer to that question. If you’re interested in this, read on.
I’ve been a fan of Presentation Ministries for many years. A friend of mine introduced me to their Bible telephone line in 1993. The lay ministry was founded by Father Al Lauer who died of cancer in 2005. Fr. Al was a typical priest, but at some point before I met him, he had a conversion that changed him dramatically. After his encounter of the Holy Spirit, he REALLY started living out his calling to the priesthood. The ministry branched out into radio, printed material, video, and digital media. One of my favorite spiritual “go-to’s” has been the One Bread, One Body booklet published by Presentation Ministries, and written mostly by Father Al, that offers a reflection on the daily readings. Today’s reflection really stuck out to me, and the full teaching (which I cut and pasted) is posted below.
As many of you know, I’ve worked in media, politics, ministry, radio, television and print journalism all of my professional life, about 30 years now. Reason I mention it is I’ve had the opportunity to meet many interesting people. And it’s amazing the sheer peace and joy expressed when I meet and interview people who are really connected to God. I mean they just exude something that is completely supernatural. I interviewed a Sister of Life last week for the radio show on Catholic Radio Indy, Faith In Action, that I co-host, and she said she spends FOUR HOURS a DAY in Eucharistic Adoration!! Wow! No wonder I was getting a firehose of God’s grace, peace and joy by just being in her digital presence. And in all my interactions with her leading up to the interview, during and after were really evident of that complete and utter JOY. It is the polar opposite of what we see today in so many that we know and love. It’s not just young people who are sad and seemingly lost, but with people of all ages. The sadness comes for many reasons, but the stark contrast I observe in my work and daily life, it’s hard to ignore that it appears that those who have willfully or inadvertently disconnected from God seem so sad.
It reminds me of the story in today’s Gospel where the young man who had followed the commandments, but wanted to do more to enter the Kingdom of heaven, so he asks Jesus what he must do. And Jesus tells him to sell what he has and give to the poor. The guy goes away sad because he had many possessions. Are we like the guy who walked away? How often do we walk away in our modern age? How often do we say, “No thanks, God I’ve got better stuff to do. I’ve got one more show to watch on my Netflix binge, or I’ve got one more work-related thing to do, no time for prayer”, or “I’m going to chill on Sunday, rather than make celebrating the Eucharist today a priority.”
I’ll get to the point. Here’s my question. Do you have joy? A deep abiding joy and peace, that kind? Are you experiencing sadness that you can’t quite place the cause? I want you to know. God loves you. God made you on purpose and he created you for a purpose. Perhaps it’s time for you to take some time to discover what that is. I’m praying for you right now as you move forward on your journey!
(Below is the reflection that prompted this blog post. I hope some of the scriptures within speak to your heart.)
“The young man went away sad, for his possessions were many.” —Matthew 19:22
American foreign missionaries customarily remark that Americans are much sadder than their Third World neighbors. Our elderly observe that people aren’t as happy as they used to be. Many American cities face an unprecedented epidemic of teen suicides. Almost half our children grow up in broken homes. In many ways, we are a sad society. Like the young rich man, our possessions are many. We refuse to help the physically poor, and thus we have become spiritually poor. We have no joy, happiness, or fulfillment. We choose to walk away from Jesus rather than with Him (Mt 19:22).
Love of money is the root of these evils (1 Tm 6:10). We choose estrangement over engagement, possessions over people, lusts over love. We try to save our lives, so we lose them (Lk 9:24). We gain the whole world but lose our happiness and our souls (Lk 9:25). The young rich men and women who did not follow Jesus are now old rich men and women. The Lord, in His mercy, is giving them another chance. Jesus says: “Go, sell your possessions, and give to the poor. You will then have treasure in heaven. Afterward come back and follow Me” (Mt 19:21).
Follow Jesus. “Now is the acceptable time!” (2 Cor 6:2)
Prayer: Jesus, may I choose to be materially poor and thereby inherit the kingdom now (Mt 5:3).
Promise: “Whenever the Lord raised up judges for them, He would be with the judge and save them from the power of their enemies as long as the judge lived.” —Jgs 2:18
Praise: St. Stephen, King of Hungary, fought only to defend his country, and trusting in God, was always victorious. He dedicated himself to having not just his family serve the Lord, but his entire nation as well.