4th Eastern Sunday (Note & Bulletin)

One of the more confusing prayers of St Ignatius of Loyola has to do with the resurrection. Ignatius prays that the joy of the Risen Lord may become one’s own. Notice that it is not my joy but the Lord’s joy. For years I never paid much attention to Ignatius’ wording. I read it quickly and prayed for my own joy. My joy would be the gift of eternal life. This is not the prayer of Ignatius, so what then is the joy of the Risen Lord which can be given to us? I was thinking of this because in this week’s Gospel, Jesus says, “What my Father has given me is greater than all else, and no one can snatch it out of the Father’s hand. The Father and I are one.” I think that what the Father has given the Lord, in the resurrection, is the source of the Risen Lord’s joy.

A few years ago, I was speaking to another Jesuit, Fr Monty, and asked him what he thought was the joy of the risen Lord. He thought that the Lord’s joy was the redeemed relationship of Christ’s humanity with the Father. While Christ was not born into sin as we are, the experience of humanity since Adam and Eve has been one of regret and fear. The regret comes from our sin and expresses itself in the fear that one is no longer the child of God. It’s as if sin has broken the relationship between ourselves and the Father, that the closeness we once enjoyed is now marked by distance. This distance is not of God’s making but our own. The distance we make is a consequence of our thoughts and feelings. We think we’ve angered and disappointed God and so we feel ourselves far from him. We even try to seek him, to find him, but it seems impossible. The more we try, the more we feel the distance.

If we look however at the gift of Christ in his incarnation, passion and resurrection, we see that our God does not stand still and wait to be found. Rather, he seeks us, he comes into human life, he lives in a family, he makes friends, and he seeks the lost. What this means for us is that in our faith there is no panic nor fear because God is searching for us. With the resurrection God is proclaiming a gift loud and clear – our relationship is not broken. The beautiful truth that we are children of God is not something that is ever rejected, because God guarantees it. The joy of the Risen Christ, what God has given him that is greater than anything else, that can never be taken away, is the eternal gift of the Father’s love. There is no panic or fear in our faith because if God is Father, than we are always his beloved children. And so we know peace, we know joy, because we know his love. The joy of the Risen Lord is our own.

God bless, and take care!

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