Before the Easter Season comes to an end it must be emphasised that it is a

SEASON OF JOY! THIS SUNDAY’S ENTRANCE ANTIPHON provides a splendid summary: “Proclaim a joyful sound and let it be heard: proclaim to the ends of the earth: the Lord has freed his people, alleluia.”

How really successful are we in proclaiming our joy so that it is heard by others? Do we give the genuine impression that our Easter celebrations have deeply reminded us that the Lord has

FREED us? Do we FEEL free again … that we know a weight has been lifted off our shoulders? In recent weeks Pope Francis has suggested that a joyless Christianity is a contradiction in terms.

This Christian joy is not to be equated with ‘a happy hour’

{YUK!} at the Club …. some sort of ‘merry’ karioke session {yuk, again!}! Rather, it is to experience in a personal sense of peace, inner contentment and a certain knowledge that I have been liberated from all those worries, tensions, and niggles that had overshadowed me. Once again I feel invigorated, and encouraged to take up my life and living with a spring in my footstep. My life is no longer bearable but livable.

This is the approach envisioned by TODAY’S PSALM [98 or 97]. “He has worked wonders … has made known his salvation … shown his deliverance … remembered his merciful love … the ends of the earth have seen … shout to the Lord.”

Now, a careful reading of

TODAY’S FIRST SCRIPTURE [ACTS 10: 25 – 26. 34 – 35. 44 – 48] makes real sense. In addition, as we reflect on this extract, we may well recall last week’s references to rigid conformity. Well, Saint Peter was the first recorded nonconformist among the disciples. If we read a little further on in ACTS, it will be noticed that Peter had to defend his actions in the face of strong disapproval from the elders of the first Christian community. Cornelius was not a Jew! Horror of horrors for the elders …. how could Peter have baptised him and the Gentile family gathered around?!

Yet, Peter had astutely recognised the hand of God – and had read the signs of the time. We should go back a little and read again the words quoted above from our Psalm.

In all of this I am reminded of some words from a book I am presently studying:

“the essence of freedom is that we should be able to follow and shape our lives by the deepest desire of our being. Our danger is that we should be so conditioned by our own fears that we lose all trust in ourselves and hand over our lives to the experts …” {GERARD W HUGHES, SJ: Cry of Wonder: Bloomsbury: Page 267}

In all of this it is essential that we listen carefully to what we are told in

TODAY’S SECOND READING [1 JOHN 4: 7 – 10]. There, the basic foundation of Christian joy is clearly spelt out for us …. GOD’S LOVE FOR US, that he sent his only-begotten Son into the world that we might LIVE through him” …. not our love for him! OUR GOSPEL READING [JOHN 15: 9 – 17] confirms this. As the Father has loved me, so I have loved you; abide in my love. I live my Christian life on the foundation of the Lord’s love for me – not my love for him.

In this context, it is suggested that we question the complaint voiced

(often with a certain sense of aggrieved disappointment) – ‘Father, I have been a good Catholic all my life but ….’. What is a good Catholic? I am not entirely sure! But a good Catholic must first of all be a GOOD CHRISTIAN …. and such an ‘animal’ is one who knows that he / she is a friend of Jesus, someone who has not chosen him but has been chosen!CHOSEN IN AND WITH LOVE.

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