Dear Friends in Christ,
“Rejoice always! Pray without ceasing. In all circumstances give thanks, for this is the will of God for you in Christ Jesus.” ~1 Thes 5:16
This is a tall order even in the best of times, but even more so in challenging times. Yet, it remains the will of God for us to Rejoice, Pray and Give Thanks. These are not just simple admonitions or cute Hallmark greeting card bon mots, they are life-changing and life-giving instructions of God’s Holy Word as given by St. Paul. Each of these actions individually and collectively are ingredients for our holiness and happiness. Recall once again, the key to happiness is holiness! Often we look upon these actions of rejoicing, praying and giving thanks, as a burden or a chore. We make excuses for failing to do them and for avoiding them. Our resistance in following these instructions of St. Paul leads us to lives that are morose, despairing and ungrateful. In fairness, this type of person is not anyone we truly want to be or anyone we would want to be around. As believers and followers of Jesus, we always have a reason to rejoice. The cause of our joy is Jesus, who has saved us from eternal death and opened for us the gates of heaven. We always have a reason to pray, for God is always there for us. He is always there to hear our prayers. God is always ready to come to our aid whenever we call upon Him in faith. ‘It is right and just,’ ‘always and everywhere’ to give thanks to God. We can never give adequate thanks to God for all the good He has done for us. The Lord blesses us in more ways than we can count and even in ways we cannot see.
Before the pandemic, rejoicing, praying and giving thanks were a challenge. Even before we ever heard of COVID or thought about wearing a face mask, our world was on a course of self-destruction. We were constantly being told to be afraid and fearful. We were told how bad, ugly and dangerous the world was – climate change, racial injustice, economic inequality, sexual abuse and so many other ills threatened every person. We have been told that religion is hatred and that Christians are intolerant bigots. In a perversion of Orwellian dimensions, we have been indoctrinated in Newspeak that killing and murder by abortion, euthanasia and suicide are good things! Abortion is not infanticide, it is a choice! Euthanasia is not murder, it is merciful and dignified. Today, the fear mongering is at a fever pitch. We see authorities attempting to control individuals and society through power grabs, manipulation and restriction of civil and human rights. Yet, are we any happier? Are our lives more secure? Or are we more worried, fearful, tired and pessimistic?
As disciples of the Lord Jesus, as members of His body, the Church, we are called to something different and to be something different than what the world wants for us and of us. God’s will for us is holiness and happiness. However, there is no happiness in this life or in the life to come without God. As St. Augustine so beautifully put it, “You have made us for yourself, O Lord, and our hearts are restless until they rest in thee!” Because we belong to God, we trust in Him. This truth gives us confidence and hope to tackle whatever problems we may face. To be a faithful Christian is not to be foolish. To be a faithful Christian is to know that God is always with us in our every need and He is there to bless us, to guide us and to lead us even in the challenges of life. With this faith and confidence how can we not rejoice always, pray unceasingly and give thanks in all circumstances?
In pace Christi,