Reflections on the Teaching of Vatican II Through the Magisterium of John Paul II, Benedict XVI and Francis
Monday, December 14, 2015
Robert Barron - Joy As Command
Ask for Joy
In his letter to the Philippians, a people with whom Paul felt a special closeness, he says, “Rejoice in the Lord always! I say it again, rejoice!” (Philippians 4:4). Notice first of all that this is a command: Do it. Rejoice. Joy comes when we actively do it. It is not a matter of sitting around waiting for some emotional state to come over you.
But what makes this possible? To rejoice, we must first put away selfishness and learn to love. When we find ourselves joyless or listless, often the best thing we can do is some concrete act of love.
What do I mean by that? Look again to the Gospel: “Let the man with two coats give to him who has none. The man who has food should do the same” (Luke 3:11). It’s pretty clear and pretty basic: Give your life away to those in need.
Next Paul says, “Dismiss all anxiety from your minds. The Lord himself is near” (Philippians 4:5). One of the obstacles to joy is that we convince ourselves we are finally in charge of our lives. It is up to us to know everything, to control everything. And what does all of this frenzy produce? Usually more anxiety and less joy.
That's why Paul tells his beloved Philippians that the key to joy is turning your life over to God, trusting in him, having confidence that he will lead you.
This is the way of all of the saints. Listen again to Paul: “Present your needs to God in every form of prayer and in petitions full of gratitude” (Philippians 4:6). God delights in caring for us, and he wants us to ask for joy. Again and again in the New Testament we are urged to do exactly this. As a sign of our dependence upon God and a token of confidence, we are invited to ask and ask and ask.