Scripture: Lectionary: Philippians 2:12-18. Psalm 27:1.4.13-14. Luke 14:25-33:
The gift of joy comes from the Holy Spirit and St. Paul is one who knows what joy is. In his letter to the Phillipians, his favorite community, he demonstrates this joy in his writings which are filled with prayers for them—and for us. The marvelous thing about the Scriptures is that they speak to us today in our own language, culture, and mores no matter what race, color, or nationality we have as our own. No one has a corner on the market for the word of God and Paul knows that better than all the other apostles. For him and for us joy is an enticing, attractive, and healthy attitude based on grace. It goes beyond what we normally mean by joy when it is the gift of the Spirit that Paul is writing about for them and for us.
In the excerpt from Philippians for today, Paul is glad and rejoices in the faith of the community and its members whom he probably knows by name. He has not run the race of ministry in vain but has done it with power, enthusiasm, and joy. We are led to be glad and to rejoice in the Lord because of Paul.
Combining the Psalm we have for our response I joined it with Psalm 112:1 and had this as my personal reponsorial for thought during the day: “Happy, that is, joyful is the one who is merciful for the Lord is that person’s light and salvation. ( Psalm 112:1; Psalm 27:1).
In Luke we hear the living voice of Jesus telling us to detach ourselves from things that take us away from the experience of joy and peace in the Lord. He calls us to walk with him on his journey up to Jerusalem. We are not to be burdened by too many possessions and concerns. True, this is a rough journey of suffering and eventual death, but there is the firm trust and hope in the resurrection that we will share with Jesus. Like many of the persons who are saints and blessed ones who endured the weight of their cross with Jesus, we, too, have that summons. Sometimes our sufferings are our prayers.
Jesus understands them for he has suffered much for each one of us. No one escapes suffering whether it be bodily, spiritual suffering, or the anxieties that trouble us. We hear his voice, “Anyone who does not take up his/her cross and follow me cannot be my disciple.”
Recently we celebrated the saints on November first and those who are suffering awaiting their completion of the journey with the Lord leading them into the eternal joys of heaven. May our hearts be open to the call to be disciples of Jesus and to become those who make the journey with him despite the cost. Amen.
Copyright 2012 Fr. Bertrand Buby, S.M.