Getting our Priorities Right: joy, beauty and truth
Emeritus Pope Benedict XVI once said there are three key things to evangelise people: not to convert people, but to evangelise people (help them see the light): joy, beauty and Truth.
The First Reading challenges us to look for what is important – or what is more important – in our religious traditions and Traditions. Sometimes the Truth gets buried under a lot of small traditions that are useful but not, in themselves, the Truth.
Perhaps we are too busy doing “administration” to have time to share with others?
Administration covers all the “duties” of washing up, going to work, making supper, taking kids to school, etc. But joy only comes to us when we share our lives with those who need us and those we are committed to: our family members/friends, nearby neighbours and the poor.
The problem is, we become afraid that if we don’t do all the “administration”, then we will somehow fail to survive. The text of today’s Gospel selected below should give us courage to balance in our priorities. “Peace I bequeath to you, my own peace I give you, a peace the world cannot give, this is my gift to you. Do not let your hearts be troubled or afraid.”
Yes, administration is not just important, it’s vital. But in-between all our “administration” work, must be time for sharing, so that God can surprise us with real love and joy.
If we are doing our best God will step in… and, often, we can combine our sharing time with our “administration” work by inviting people to work with us – share the burden – and teach them new skills. Empowering others gives joy, dignity and pride, while it also gives us joy.
The Second Reading today is a TYPE of writing that expands our minds to imagine how vast the beauty and Power of God is – and we will see it fully when we reach Heaven.
For now, we can see beauty in “small amounts”, even though they may be breathtaking.
The question is, do we, ourselves, see beauty each day? Do we take time to appreciate the beauty around us? Perhaps most important, do we take time to see the beauty in each other?
If we don’t see beauty, how do we allow God to evangelise us?
The Truth revealed by Jesus Christ is to live the Word. Not as a burden, but as a framework within which we have freedom to love: as we respect others they will (we pray) respect us.
That’s all the Commandments are: limits and actions that ensure we live in respectful and fear-free harmony in our communities; which allows us to be joyful, even when life is tough. Remembering that JOY is experienced repeatedly (heart); Happiness comes and goes (head).
In conclusion, let’s first of all allow God to evangelise us by prioritising our time shared with family and friends, and help each other see the beauty around us and within us. Then, we pray, God will show us how to share the joy and beauty, we’ve received, with others.
Let me conclude with a story: One day a man from a nearby village called out at the monastery gates, and handed the old monk who opened it a magnificent bunch of grapes, saying, “Dear Father, I have brought as a gift the finest grapes my vineyard has produced.”
The monk smiled, “Thank you, I will take them to the Abbot immediately; he’ll be delighted with this offering. “But,” the villager said, “No, no I brought them for you.” The old monk didn’t think he deserved such a fine gift. “Oh yes!” insisted the man. “For whenever I come by, you open the gates and welcome me. When I needed help because the crop was destroyed, you shared your meal with me every day. I hope this bunch of grapes will remind you of the sun’s love, the rain’s beauty and the miracle of God, for it is He who made them grow so fine.”
The monk held the bunch grapes. It looked full and luscious. He decided to present it to the Abbot, who had always encouraged him with words of wisdom. The Abbot was very pleased with the grapes, but as he accepted them, he thought of one of the brothers who had been very unwell. “I’ll give him these grapes; they may bring some joy to his life.”
But the grapes didn’t stay in the sick monk’s room for long. He thought of the newest entrant to the monastery. He decided to gift them to the youngster as he felt he might be a bit lonely without his family, and that he might understand that the work of God is in the smallest details of creation. When the novice received them, his heart was filled with the Glory of the Lord, for he had never seen such beautiful grapes. He then recalled the first time he came to the monastery, and the simple old monk who had opened the gates and warmly welcomed him; it was that gesture which allowed him to feel at home in this community of people who knew how to value the wonders of life. https://www.speakingtree.in/article/stories-of-sharing-and-spreading-joy
And so, he walked to the monk at the gates. “Eat and enjoy them,” he said. “For you spend most of your time alone here, and these grapes will make you very happy.”
By Gerard Conlan, OMI