By Father John Catoir
In this post-Pentecost season, it is important to remember some lessons from Jesus: love, pray, go, teach.
After His ascension, Jesus sent the Holy Spirit to us. He wanted to spread His message to the world. He chose the Jewish festival of Pentecost, 50 days after Passover, to send His Holy Spirit to us. The Hebrew spring festival was about giving thanks for harvested crops. For us, it’s about saving souls. Love and salvation bring joy to the soul. We are called to joyfully announce that Jesus is Lord. And to do that, we must put on the will to be a cheerful person.
A cheerful heart is a shield against adversity. To develop such an attitude, you’ll have to prepare yourself well in advance. Don’t wait for good things to happen. Good cheer is in the will; it is not in the weather. Decide now to take the advice of St. Paul to heart: “Rejoice always. Pray without ceasing. In all circumstances give thanks, for this is the will of God for you in Christ Jesus” (1 Thess 5:16-18).
Rejoicing begins with a decision and immediately turns into a prayer of thanksgiving. Pray for the grace of a joyful spirit. We want to be lifted above the turmoil of the world. We want to live joyfully because we know God loves us and we want others to experience the same.
Today, our joy is an attraction for all to see. We, like many before us, live in a time of turmoil. Some of us face tougher realities than others. Some Christians, particularly in conflict zones in the Middle East, live under the threat of persecution. Some have lost their lives or watched others die solely because of the faith they practice. And even if these things are not happening near us, we still share a concern for the well-being of those who are suffering.
You may ask: How can anyone be joyful while trying to process the enormity of the evil that occurs in the world? No one can, but with God, all things are possible. God can do for you what you cannot do for yourself.
Don’t turn to booze or drugs to escape the misery. Put on your war face. You are a survivor. It has been done by others before you.
As a boy growing up in St. Joan of Arc parish in Jackson Heights, I was old enough to understand that soldiers were fighting in a war against Hitler. There was uncertainty about the outcome of the war and we were all afraid that the worst could happen: We might lose. We lived in fear similar to what some feel these days when they think about terrorism and other acts of evil in the world.
But fast-forward to decades later and the fear that seemed to consume us then is now a distant memory. Thank God we survived. We defeated the evil of our times and I’m confident we will do it again.
So, even though there are legitimate reasons to worry, and concerns that should make us work for justice in the world, we should remain people of good cheer no matter what, not only because Jesus asked it of you, but also because a cheerful heart is a shield against adversity.
Father John Catoir writes a syndicated column for Catholic News Service.