Friedrich Nietzsche once said that the “When Christians stopped singing, people stopped believing them.” Mother Teresa used to say that “Holiness begins with a smile.” As opposite as those two persons seem to be, they are both making the point that “Joy is echo of God’s love in us.”
As we’ve been reminded by several Scripture readings during December, before his birth, John the Baptist leaped for joy in response to Jesus’ presence and Mary’s Magnificat can rightly be called a Canticle of Joy. How could Mary keep from singing in response to the love of the Holy Spirit poured out in her body? How could the angels of heaven have kept quiet on the night that God was born on earth? If they hadn’t announced the ‘tidings of great joy’, the rocks would have cried out, as Jesus said later.
I’ve often made the mistake in my life of letting my problems rob me of my joy. Living in the chaotic world in which we live, it’s easy for us to give into the temptation of magnifying our problems instead of magnifying the Lord. This reaction to the conundrums of everyday life serves the devil’s dual purpose of keeping our eyes off of God’s presence and discouraging us from telling others that God is Real. When we assume that God can only be praised and joy can only be real when we have no problems, we rob ourselves and others and God of tremendous treasure.
That treasure is the felicity of children who are loved. Venerable Fr. Solanus Casey said, “We worry and fret about tomorrow as though our dear Lord had never spoken a word about his Divine Providence or proved his loving solicitude for each of us a thousand times a day.” Blessed children that we are, how can we keep from singing? And what better evangelization tool can we have that speaks of the reality of our Father than our song?
Benedict XVI‘s Prayer Intention for January 2013 is “That in this Year of Faith, Christians may deepen their knowledge of the mystery of Christ and witness joyfully to the gift of faith in him.” Let us ask God humbly for that joyful witness to the gift of Faith. And let us begin with a song!