Joy comes through enduring peace … share time, talent and materials to give dignity to others & maintain peace
Last week the PEACE candle burned brightly. In the same way our world leaders are burning lots of air-time talking about peace with plenty of media coverage. However, as we know, more and more countries around the world are in conflict with themselves or their neighbours.
So, the Church now leads us down the pathway to show how to ensure long lasting peace. To assist us, we are given the candle of JOY – a pink one. Personally I prefer blue, but Mother Church knows best I guess! (Blue= Mary’s colour: the Queen of peace and joy.)
St Paul reminds us that God’s greatest desire is for us to be truly happy, not happy drunk, but deeply contented: at peace with ourselves. Only then can we be at peace with others.
And the pathway to sustain peace and bring true joy? Try sharing with those in need. It may sound like charity. But there’s a difference. Charity only helps people out for 5 minutes.
SHARING is a way to empower people to eventually help themselves. It may require money, but it mostly requires presence, commitment, knowledge and training.
“We experience joy when we achieve selflessness to the point of personal sacrifice. We feel joy when we are spiritually connected to God or people.” Rev. Dr. Christopher Benek.
We can think globally, and see students from poorer countries, trained in wealthy countries, who bring that knowledge back home. Or Universities can build bridges with poorer nations. Governments can invest in infrastructure to empower citizens to be creative. eg. roads, hydro.
But we also need to improve sharing in the family context. Sometimes busy harassed parents don’t have time to teach their children how to do many things. Then parents can become too demanding of their children: “you don’t know how to do that? What’s wrong with you?”
However, when parents share their time generously (and gently!), not only is the child empowered, but both parent and child experience a real joy of companionship, which cements their mutual love for each other.
Unfortunately, many children in society are now raised using money, instead of presence and sharing of skills from parents. We’ve fallen into the trap of thinking that money will allow us to build nice things for our family, and then we’ll be happy.
I recall when the stock market crashed, some years back, one politician said something like: this is the correction we needed. Perhaps, losing our wealth is the “correction” we need to have, to help us start sharing more =more dependent on each other.
For those with little time and struggling to support the family financially, take a moment to see how the children can become partners in the struggle: share with them the needs and let them help – not as child labour – but through small tasks at home and reducing wastage/ expenses.
Our Gospel is a microcosm (a miniature of the desire we have to be reconciled with important people in our lives). The people asked; “what do we have to do?” John the Baptist gives the example of giving away one shirt if you have two.
In one sense it sounds like charity. But the shirt is going to someone with none. By receiving the shirt that other person gets some dignity and capacity to look for a job.
So, what is it in our relationship(s) that needs some help? Where do our loved ones, or friends, or neighbours, need something to empower them? Then, our 1st Reading can come true. “Shout for joy, daughter of Zion, Israel, shout aloud!”
One of the key “checks and balances” the Oblates use in our mission support for projects is the 50/50 rule. The local people are encouraged (supported), and motivated to contribute something (dignity): and together we create what’s needed (empowered).
When people are empowered, then peace continues. So, sharing, far from depleting our wealth, safeguards our wealth and improves our relationships which makes JOY possible.
This can be at home; between friends; between work colleagues; or between countries.
Finally, I’m reminded of an expression: when someone asks for help, successful people never ask: “what’s in it for me?” Perhaps that’s why many of us are not successful: because the common response is “what’s in it for me?” or “what will you give me in return?”
Let’s be a blessing for someone this week by sharing something we have: time, skills, money.
By Gerard Conlan, OMI