Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Uniting With Jesus


When Mother Theresa of Calcutta addressed a group of major religious superiors from all over the world, she made this salient point:

"To be really united to Jesus we must all strive to be united with him in his passion. It is his passion to be intensely aware of the suffering of others. He unites with the suffering of the poorest of the poor, and wants to help them. He wants to bring his love, peace and joy to them, and he needs us to do that. And that is why we must radiate joy!"

Her emphasis on joy was striking! And her interpretation of Christ's "passion," as "a yearning to help others," was enlightening. If his passion was to help the downtrodden, maybe the emphasis many of us put on Christ's physical pain misses the point.

Ultimately it was his love for the poor that led to his crucifixion. He told the outcasts that they were blessed. The Pharisees told them that they were defiled. The Pharisees were furious when Jesus defended the poor.

According to Mother Theresa, being united with Jesus means entering fully into his passion to help others. To do this she asks us to radiate his joy, which is the "Joy" of the Blessed Trinity. Joy liberates us all from sorrow.

At times suffering is unavoidable. When it comes it purifies the soul and wins us grace, but we do not need to increase our physical pain in order to grow closer to Jesus. All we need to do is unite with his passion for helping those in need.

The Lord wants us to communicate his love and his joy.

When I write about the importance of joy, some people think that I am watering down the faith. They think I should preach Christ crucified, but I do. Preaching Christ crucified does not mean focusing on his physical suffering. It means being united to his passion. This involves the deepest level of love and self-surrender.

The sacrifices we make in the name of love do not diminish us; rather they serve to intensify our joy. Joy is the by-product of love.

If we are to bring "joy to the world," as Jesus did, we must understand his mission. Helping others to triumph over their sorrow requires an abundance of love and joy on our part, and that is why Mother Theresa insists that we "Radiate joy."

Christianity is not primarily about sadness and suffering. Quite the opposite! All Christians are all called to the fullness of God's joy. Mother Theresa continued, "We are called to be carriers of God's peace, love, and joy." Sacred Scripture teaches that the Holy Spirit is nothing but "love, peace and joy."

Mother Theresa said, "You can't give what you do not have, so it is important that we ask for God's joy. We must pray to grow in joy."

The Lords loves us so much that he wants to liberate us from pain and suffering. He died that we might live; he plans a brighter tomorrow for all of us. The hope of heaven permeates our lives here and how. Jesus frees us from fear and self-pity.

The demands of the modern world take a heavy toll on our bodies and our souls, but Jesus said, "Do not be afraid. . . I have told you this that your joy may be full."

by Father John Catoir