Joy

Dear friends in Christ:

Have you ever wondered Why be Catholic? or What difference does it make if I believe in Jesus or not? Most of us have at one time or another. The answer to these very serious questions is both simple and complex. The answer is TODAY. Why be Catholic? Because of Easter. What difference does Jesus make? Because of Easter. It is the joy of Jesus conquering sin and death through his passion, death and resurrection. Why be Catholic? EASTER JOY! What difference does Jesus make in my life? EASTER JOY!

Too often, people confuse or simply do not know what Christianity or Catholicism are really about. Too Many people think Christianity and/or Catholicism are about rules: “Do this! Don’t do that.” In reality, nothing could be further from the truth. Our Faith is NOT about rules, IT IS ABOUT THE JOY OF OUR RELATIONSHIP WITH GOD IN JESUS. The world has always known a certain amount of joy and happiness, peace and contentment. These are certainly not Christian inventions. Human nature seeks pleasure and fulfillment – food, sex, comfort, affirmation. Yet ultimately, every happiness, satisfaction or pleasure that we seek and that the world offers is going to be found lacking and falling short of what we really desire and what really satisfies. Unfortunately because of Original Sin, greed, lust, envy, pride, anger, sloth and gluttony (The 7 Deadly Sins) are hardwired into our human nature. Eventually the sins take their toll in denying us true and lasting joy, happiness and contentment. Because of these seven deadly sins, we must face the stark reality of the finiteness of our existence which is our death and that is the greatest deprivation of all. Many on the pilgrimage of life see nothing other than misery and capped by the darkness of death and nothingness or perhaps at the very least a temporary satisfaction that does not last. In this journey, some see hope as little more than foolishness or a cruel joke. Seemingly the only choices are to eat, drink and be merry, for tomorrow we shall die or just give up now! Without faith, fatalism and despair are the options we have set before us.

Why be Catholic? What difference does Jesus make? Ultimately, it is the joy of the resurrection of Jesus. It is the joy that fatalism and despair, sin and death are no longer the only choices we have.

Our joy is that Jesus, true God and true man has conquered for us what we ourselves could not overcome. Our joy is that Jesus, the crucified one, risen from the grave seeks us and desires friendship with us. He desires our friendship and he seeks to offer us his friendship. Our Easter Joy is that sin and death which separate us from Jesus and from one another do not get the last word. Fatalism and despair are no longer our only choices because of our relationship with God in Jesus. Our Easter joy is that because of Jesus, we can live our lives not as slaves to Lust, Greed, Gluttony, Envy, Anger, Pride and Sloth but in the freedom and joy of Diligence, Humility, Meekness, Charity, Temperance, Generosity and Purity. We rejoice because sin now has a cure and death has a remedy in Jesus. We rejoice because of our relationship, our friendship with Jesus Christ. And through him with The Blessed Virgin Mary, St. Joseph, The holy apostles and all of the saints.

Being a Catholic is about believing, but it is even more about living! While being a Catholic is certainly about believing the Catholic Faith, it is about living the joy of the Catholic Faith each day. For us as Catholics, every day is Easter! We are an Easter people and Alleluia is our song! as St. Augustine of Hippo so famously teaches us. Why be Catholic? So that we can be happy in having Jesus as part of our lives. Being Catholic means to experience a life of joy even in the midst of pain, suffering and difficulty. Why be Catholic? So that we may live our lives in friendship with God in this world and for all eternity! What difference does Jesus make? It makes all the difference in the world. It is the difference between living with God in this world and in the world to come or living our lives in loneliness and solitude estranged from God. It is the difference of being a slave to sin and death or a child of God living in freedom, hope and virtue.

Being a Catholic isn’t always easy. It takes effort to follow Jesus and to be his friend. It takes effort to be a faithful disciple and there are times along the way in which we fail. Allowing Jesus to make our lives different takes trust and faith. When we give our lives to Jesus and enter into relationship with Him and His church, we put ourselves in the position of having a friendship that is eternal without compare. This is our JOY! This is our Happiness! Our crucified and risen Lord has broken the bonds of sin and death, fatalism and despair! Jesus’ resurrection is our hope and our promise. In Jesus, we are never alone. He is our true and eternal JOY!

Happy Easter!

In Pace Christi,

Fr. Troy Gately