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  • Writer's pictureDr. Anthony Lilles

The Joy of the Father

The world needs the joy of the Father and this is what the Lord came to give us. He preached this joy at the outset of his ministry when He proclaimed a Year of Favor - and this Jubilee is fulfilled in all who will listen to Him. He whispers to the ear of our heart so that our judgment about the Lord, about sin and about what is true might be filled with the jubilation the Father yearns for us to know. Yet, because of the noise of the world, we do not hear His voice. Because we do not listen, we are robbed of the joy that could otherwise bring us to our senses. To hear voice the Lord, there are other voices that we must recognize and reject. This requires discipline and vigilance, by opens to great joy.

If we are not discerning in what we attend to and whose judgments we allow into our hearts, we are driven by dehumanizing forces and immature impulses. The voices of nearly every political interest fosters fear and resentment to advance control. The voices of the famous excite sensationalism to advance their own reputation and influence. The messages of the culturally and financially powerful too often appeal to arrogance to exploit their wealth and positions in society. So many of the sellers in the marketplace of materialism stir little more than avarice to commercialize every relationship. Yet, if we are not resentful, who controls us? If we are not spellbound by the sensational, who influences us? If we are not arrogant, who can exploit us? If we resist greed, who reduces us to commercialism? This kind of vigilance keeps the ear of the heart open to the voice of the Lord - and wherever this voice is heard, there is always insurmountable joy. Of the heart, this joy is manifest in the whole way one engages life - socially, interpersonally, and interiorly all at once. Yes, this joy from above overcomes laws against life and protects all the most vulnerable. This joy lifts up the lowly and stands with the poor. This joy welcomes the stranger and protects children in the name of the Lord. It boundaries protect what threatens our dignity and it overcomes every division. This joy purifies the Church and moves to a deeper examination of conscience. It is an encounter, a connection with the Lord, that nothing can take away, and that moves the heart to witness to others.

This joy cannot be destroyed by political or cultural powers even in the face of death. Neither fame nor wealth secure it, yet humiliation and poverty can be filled with it. Nothing man makes to achieve it, yet in inadequacy and weakness it is often found. It is pure gift - for this is how the Father loves and whoever receives this love learns to love in the same way.

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