Wednesday 9th April.
Gk Chesterton said, Joy is the gigantic secret of the Christian. And the secret of this joy is found in the mystery of the glory of Jesus cross. We don’t tend to think of the cross as the source of our joy. We rejoice because upon the cross hung the Prince of Glory. And, because of the cross of Christ, every grace, every fruit and gift of the Spirit was poured out upon us. Also, because of the cross, we are reconciled with God, forgiven our sins and partake in the divine nature, becoming sons and daughters of God, heirs of eternal life. This is the secret of our joy – but unlike a secret this mystery is to be witnessed to and proclaimed with all our heart, soul and strength.
Lord, teach me that it is wrong to be sad cynical or pessimistic and that by your grace may I nourish and cultivate in my heart a love for the cross and the deep joy of salvation.
Thursday 10th April
St Francis said, let the brothers ever avoid appearing gloomy, sad and clouded, like the hypocrites: but let one ever be found joyous in the Lord. Pope Francis is urging a recovery of joy and he is a living witness of it himself. Last year he was named Time magazine’s Man of the Year. We rejoice in this and strive in the daily routine of our lives to be know for our joy, our inner peace and our love for others also.
This is how we witness to being Disciples of Christ. We cannot preach the gospel with gloomy faces nor can we testify to the power of the gospel if we are miserable and fed up. As Blessed Mother Teresa of Calcutta said ‘One filled with joy preaches without preaching.
Lord, by believing in you I embrace your joy, by loving your cross I know your joy and by taking up my cross and serving others, I witness to the joy of the gospel of life.
Friday 11th April
What does it mean to grow and mature in Christ? Certainly it means that we deepen our understanding and knowledge of our faith. The deep truths of faith invite us to a life-long study, prayer and reflection which we can never truly exhaust. The mystery of the Incarnation, the Cross, the Resurrection, the Ascension, the Second Coming are the pillars of our faith. However, to grow as a Christian means more than deepening our grasp of doctrine or teaching. Our prayer is ‘It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me.’ To mature in faith is to mature in love and the first and the greatest of the commandments, and the one that best identifies us as Christ’s disciples is this, This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you.
Lord, teach me to grow and mature in the grace of love – love of neighbour, love of those who persecute me, love of creation but first and foremost love of you.
Saturday 12th April
Reading Evangelii Gaudium can be an examination of conscience. Pope Francis refers to acedia which is a kind of Spiritual listlessness, torpor, even depression, whose symptoms are a certain cynicism, lack of enthusiasm and vitality for the things of God. God knows we all have our ups and downs and whilst cynicism might appear clever and sophisticated it is nothing other than a form of despair. The Holy Spirit longs to lift us out of this mire but requires our co-operation which we give by desiring his intervention. The Spirit is the One who renews our hearts, strengthens our spirits and breathes into us the new life and fire of the Spirit.
Lord, send forth your spirit, renew not just the face of the earth but my cold hard heart that I may take hold of the gospel of life and witness to it with renewed love and ardour.