JOY, the Keynote of the Christian Message …
Living Words from John Paul II
Edited by Abraham A. van Kempen
Published Sunday, November 8, 2020
'Over Time We Come Together 2015' by Cassie Leatham (ABC Gippsland:Zoe Ferguson)
Each week we let Saint Pope John Paul II share meaningful signposts to spark socio-economic resolves through justice and righteousness combined with mercy and compassion; in short, love.
Greetings to you and all your friends and neighbors in rural Australia!2
My wish is that the Christian message may bring joy to all who open their hearts to it: "joy to children, joy to parents, joy to families and friends, joy to workers and scholars, joy to the sick and the elderly, joy to all humanity." I now add: "joy - deep and lasting joy - to the people of Australia."
Faith is our source of joy.
We believe in a God who created us so that we might enjoy human happiness - in some measure on earth, in its fullness in heaven. We are meant to have our human joys: the joy of living, the joy of love and friendship, the joy of work well done. Jesus teaches us what it means to be entirely happy and fully human.
Therefore, we discover joy when we discover the truth - the truth about God, our Father, the truth about Jesus, our Saviour, the truth about the Holy Spirit who lives in our hearts.
We do not pretend that life is all beauty. We are aware of darkness and sin, poverty, and pain.
But we know Jesus has conquered sin and passed through his pain to the glory of the Resurrection. And we live in the light of his Paschal Mystery - the mystery of his Death and Resurrection.
"We are an Easter People, and Alleluia is our song!". We are not looking for a shallow joy but rather a joy that comes from faith, that grows through unselfish love, that respects the "fundamental duty of love of neighbor, without which it would be unbecoming to speak of Joy." 1
Jesus lived in close contact with nature. His teaching is filled with references to nature and human life. He spoke of the shepherd and his flock, the net cast into the sea, the mustard seed, the lilies of the field, and so on. He even described his mission in the world as that of "the Good Shepherd." He compared his preaching to the work of a farmer going out to sow his seed.
Your literature and your poetry speak of the spirit of fraternal cooperation and creativity which you enjoy. Indeed it has been said that adversity, droughts, and floods have never kept an "Aussie" down for long!
Your precious rural traditions deserve to be preserved and protected. They are also a cause for gratitude to God and generous openness to others.
In the Gospel, the Apostles suggest that he send the crowd away to find food and lodging. But Jesus does not follow their advice. Instead, he says: "Give them something to eat yourselves." This reply takes the Apostles by surprise, for they feel utterly inadequate to the task of feeding so many. Yet they heed his words and immediately follow the instructions that he gives.
In the Gospel story, Jesus took the loaves and fish, blessed them, and "handed them to his disciples to distribute among the crowd." The disciples' task was distribution. In our day, farmers collaborating with their Creator can produce enough food for everyone on earth. The fact that the food already available is still not reaching the starving millions is one of our age's greatest scandals. Such a grave imbalance calls for severe international economic adjustments and greater worldwide cooperation in food production and distribution.
In our modern world, where hunger remains a daily reality for millions of people, these words of our Lord retain their impact. For in faith, we know that he is repeating today the charge he gave to the Apostles: "Give them something to eat yourselves."
The problems associated with hunger in the modern world are ones that we must all face together.
"Let all things their Creator bless,
and worship him in humbleness;
O praise him, alleluia"! 2
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