Summary: Joy is found in following Jesus even though we know we are sinners.

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Thursday of 21st Week in Course

Evangelii Gaudium

The wisdom of the world that St. Paul is putting down today is foolishness to God. Listen to the advice shows. By and large, they try to help people advance in life by making more money, or gaining more popularity, or both. But these thoughts are futile. If we want to have true fulfillment, to experience true joy, we know that we must do two things that are not worldly-wise. The first is to serve others, and to do so without seeking fame, glory, power or money. That means things like donating to soup kitchens, or standing in the serving line, or hammering in molding on a Habitat house.

The second way to fulfillment and joy is to spend time seeing union with God. In the beginning, we must be putting off our bad habits, learning how to detest our sinful practices so that they no longer give us pleasure. Then we must spend time in prayer, silently seeking that critical union with the only One who can fill up the emptiness in our hearts. What was Simon thinking when he told Jesus to depart after the miracle of the fish? He was channeling Isaiah, who saw the power and glory of God filling the Temple, and realizing that his own sinfulness was such a contrast with the purity of God, he couldn’t stand it. Peter realized the same thing, but instead of running away–as many of us do when we see God’s power, when the veil is temporarily down–he asked Christ to depart. When He not only didn’t depart, but called Peter to follow Him, he obeyed. Because he knew that such an action is the only way to true joy.

As the Holy Father writes, it is the same prophet Isaiah who “exultantly salutes the awaited Messiah: “You have multiplied the nation, you have increased its joy” (9:3). He exhorts those who dwell on Zion to go forth to meet him with song: “Shout aloud and sing for joy!” (12:6). The prophet tells those who have already seen him from afar to bring the message to others: “Get you up to a high mountain, O herald of good tidings to Zion; lift up your voice with strength, O herald of good tidings to Jerusalem” (40:9). All creation shares in the joy of salvation: “Sing for joy, O heavens, and exult, O earth! Break forth, O mountains, into singing! For the Lord has comforted his people, and will have compassion on his suffering ones”.

“Zechariah, looking to the day of the Lord, invites the people to acclaim the king who comes “humble and riding on a donkey”: “Rejoice greatly, O daughter Zion! Shout aloud, O daughter Jerusalem! Lo, your king comes to you; triumphant and victorious is he” (9:9).

Perhaps the most exciting invitation is that of the prophet Zephaniah, who presents God with his people in the midst of a celebration overflowing with the joy of salvation. I find it thrilling to reread this text: “The Lord, your God is in your midst, a warrior who gives you the victory; he will rejoice over you with gladness, he will renew you in his love; he will exult over you with loud singing, as on a day of festival” (3:17).

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