In him we find his joy – and ours

As we begin the new year of 2017 and continue to celebrate Christmas, hopefully yours is a truly joyful and peaceful one, whether local or traveling, whatever your circumstances in life may be at the moment, good or bad, “suffering or glorious.”
One of the many blessings in our faith is that we can truly be joyful and at peace even in our struggles and greatest trials if our joy is in Jesus, the “Emmanuel” – which delightfully means “God-is-with-us.”
I often think of the great saints in our history who were joyful in their moments of greatest need. St. Lawrence, as he was being grilled to death over flames, joked with his executioners: “Turn me over, I’m done on this side.” St. Francis of Assisi, known by some as  the “joyful beggar,” happily sang praises to God after being beaten up for preaching the Gospel and also in times where he was cold and traveling in the snowy winter of Italy.
Our own saint of the homeland, St. Elizabeth Ann Seton, was known to be joyful and at peace even as she suffered through the death of a husband (and children) and faced rejection as she converted to the Catholic faith.
And I also think of a modern saint, St. Teresa of Kolkata, “Mother Teresa” as most of us have known her, who would most always have a bright smile on her face, even though we know now after an illuminating biography published a few years ago showed that she often went through a true “dark night of the soul,” many times of interior darkness, desolation and even depression: not feeling the presence of the God she knew was right near her.

Young women from Missionaries of Charity homes in Kolkata, India, dance near an image of St. Teresa of Kolkata during an Oct. 2 celebration in her honor at the Netaji Indoor Stadium. Pope Francis canonized her Sept. 4, 2016, at the Vatican. (CNS photo/Anto Akkara)

These saints knew this well: that as convicted as they were of Jesus the Christ being the savior of our world, the savior from our sins, they also knew very well that Jesus could be – and is – the savior of the other areas of their lives where they needed him. Their fears and doubts, their desires, hearts, life and work, their joys and their sufferings; illnesses, depression, challenges in relationships, struggles with family, their community, their nation or others. If the saints, holy and human as they were, knew they needed a savior for these things: do not we also? We invite Christ, rightly, into our Christmas and this New Year: let us invite him with trust to be the savior of those areas in our life that we might not “want him to see” – but where we most sincerely need a savior. In this, we always find joy and His peace. In him, we find his joy – and ours.

Catholic Review

The Catholic Review is the official publication of the Archdiocese of Baltimore.