by Bernadine Yong
How can I catch souls if I do not have joy?
In a world of instant gratification fuelled by our technological society, joy can be fleeting and conditional when it’s centred on comparison and competition. The growing influence of social media has the power to effect and dictate our choices, attitudes and perceptions unconsciously. When we do not choose to live life intentionally, we can get caught up with the need to strive to fit into the mould of what the world defines for us as success, joy and acceptable.
“The Gospel offers us the chance to live life on a higher plane” (10). We are called not to be mediocre but to embody and to live the abundance and fullness of life that Jesus came to give us (John 10:10). The glory of the cross to set us free FROM the slavery of our sins, gives new meaning to our lives FOR something greater. The joy of experiencing the Lord’s love and mercy cannot be contained and gives us the impetus and propels one to proclaim the good news just as how the Samaritan woman left her water jar behind and ran to the neighbouring town to proclaim what the Lord had done for her.
Similarly, imagine the exhilaration Mary Magdalene must have felt when she encountered the resurrected Jesus. She too, went to share the good news with the other disciples. The way we live our lives and how we choose to live our lives have a ripple effect in the lives of others (EG 2.75). “For if we have received the love which restores meaning to our lives, how can we fail to share that love with others?” (8)
Where was the deep resounding joy that I had?
The constant need to achieve and accomplish to gain the approval of people, and to win the favour of my bosses and colleagues had unknowingly robbed me of my joy. Restlessness started to seep in and I found myself wearing a mask under the façade that all was well. I went through the drudgery of life settling for mediocrity, I grew contented so long as I achieved my KPIs and performed what was expected of me. The resounding lie that I’m not good enough if I’m not the best or if I don’t succeed made me feel frustrated, trapped and I blamed myself for not being better. I needed to prove myself to others and it became my guiding principle to compete to win. I got caught up with my own interests and concerns that it encroached into the space for God and others. Indeed when “God’s voice is no longer heard, the quiet joy of his love is no longer felt, and the desire to do good fades.” (2)
Bringing my restlessness to the Lord was a reminder to let him encounter me again, and to let him speak to me in that still small voice; to be comforted and to know that I am good enough for him. I didn’t need to strive, and I could find rest in the Lord’s approval and acceptance of me. Reflecting on Evangelii Gaudium and the sharings of my fellow brothers and sisters, encourages me to continually recognise the movements in my heart and to bring the shadows and darkness of my heart under his light. God “is always capable of restoring our joy, he makes it possible for us to lift up our heads and to start anew.” (3) I only need to cooperate with his grace and his Holy Spirit, to allow him to use me as his instrument of love to be present, supportive and available in the lives of those around me.
Echoing the word of St Mother Teresa, “joy is prayer; joy is strength; joy is love; joy is a net of love by which you can catch souls.” My joy is in the Lord, and his mission is my mission. May our joy radiate the light of Christ and shine onto the path that directs all men to him. Will you let the Lord restore your joy today?
Called to be the vessel of the Lord’s grace and mercy. Spontaneous and adventurous in trying new things.