When Katie sees a ray of sunshine her face lights up and she uses every effort to get to that ray so she can soak it in. She always finds beauty in such simple things. She has no wish list from Santa and if there was nothing for her under the tree on Christmas morning she would remain happy. I believe she is happy because her heart is not tainted with sin. Sometimes when I pray for God to heal her I hear Him saying, “She is perfect, she has never sinned. If she were healed to live a normal life sin would come. She is pure.”
I believe this purity, this happiness that Katie has, is true JOY. Sometimes I get confused about what JOY is. Is it the smiling faces of my kids when they see the gifts on Christmas morning? Is it the feeling I get when I open that special box from a loved one? Or is it much deeper than that?
JOY is one of the fruits of the Holy Spirit. At Baptism we receive seven special gifts from the Holy Spirit; wisdom, understanding, counsel, fortitude, knowledge, piety and fear of the Lord. When we live our lives according to God’s will accepting and using these gifts for His good, “We see the effect of the Holy Spirit’s presence in our lives in special qualities and attitudes that we develop as we grow in faith.” (RCL Benzinger’s website) These are the fruits of the Holy Spirit. “We live with JOY when we recognize that true happiness comes, not from money or possessions, but from knowing and following Christ.” (Benzinger)
To me that describes Katie perfectly. I pray that my typical children see this as a gift not as an impairment on her part. I think we sometimes feel sorry that Katie may not understand things like Santa and his gifts, but I think it is just a part of her purity, her beauty, her simplicity. I wish I was more like her!
“For the kingdom of God is not a matter of food and drink, but of righteousness, peace, and joy in the Holy Spirit; whoever serves Christ in this way is pleasing to God and approved by others. Let us then pursue what leads to peace and to building up one another.” Romans 14: 17-19
I have found that there is no feeling of JOY greater than when I do something for someone else, whether it is a physical assistance or just saying something nice or even a simple smile. When I make an effort to make someone else happy, to build up another rather than do what I want to do, it pleases God. If I did this more often I would be a more JOYFUL person. I know this because when I respond in a grumpy manner with a, “no way, I am too busy to be bothered with that”, I am the opposite of JOYFUL. I’m not sure the best definition for that, but it does not feel good.
Another action that always brings JOY is when we repent and accept God’s forgiving love, when we accept that we are far from perfect and desperately need God as our savior. Think about the most JOYFUL people you know, the people who always have a smile on their face. These people shine brighter because they have God in their hearts.
“I tell you, in just the same way there will be more JOY in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous people who have no need of repentance.” Luke 15:7
According to gotquestions.org, a very informative Christian website I found in researching the topic of JOY, “Possessing JOY is a choice. We choose whether to value God’s presence, promises, and work in our lives. When we yield to the Spirit, He opens our eyes to God’s grace around us and fills us with JOY.”
One of our priests at Prince of Peace, Father Tom Ackerman, says JOY comes from Hope. The hope for what is promised in the Bible, hope for the day we are reunited with our Lord and Savior. As we wait and prepare our hearts for this coming, may our hope bring JOY TO THE WORLD. My hope of being more like Katie and allowing her to teach me what God has in store for me brings JOY to my heart.
“May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that you may abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.” Romans 15:13