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“When the perfect and ultimate message, the joy which is The Great Joy, explodes silently upon the world, there is no longer any room for sadness.”
Thomas Merton, Raids on the Unspeakable: 65
“Shout joyfully to the LORD, all you lands; 2serve the LORD with gladness; come before him with joyful song.” Psalm: 100: 1-2
“Kindled by a spark of divine love, the soul streaks heavenward in an act of intelligence as clear and direct as the rocket’s trail of fire. Grace has released the deepest energies of our spirit and assists us to climb to new and unsuspected heights.”
Thomas Merton, A Merton Reader: 325
“Let the heavens be glad and the earth rejoice; let the sea and what fills it resound, let the plains be joyful and all that is in them. Then let all the trees of the forest rejoice.” Psalm: 96: 11-12
“If we have not silence, God is not heard in our music. If we have no rest God does not bless our work.”
Thomas Merton, No Man Is An Island: 127
“He will receive blessings from the LORD, and justice from his saving God.” Psalm: 24: 5
I have a new poem “In the fall” in vox poetica today. Many thanks to editor Annmarie Lockhart.
Waiting for Christ’s second coming and waiting for the resurrection are one and the same. The second coming is the coming of the risen Christ, raising our mortal bodies with him in the glory of God. Jesus’ resurrection and ours are central to our faith. Our resurrection is as intimately related to the resurrection of Jesus as our belovedness is related to the belovedness of Jesus. Paul is very adamant on this point. He says: “If there is no resurrection of the dead, then Christ cannot have been raised either, and if Christ has not been raised, then our preaching is without substance, and so is your faith” (1 Corinthians 15:13-14).
Indeed, our waiting is for the risen Christ to lift us up with him in the eternal life with God. It is from the perspective of Jesus’ resurrection and our own that his life and ours derive their full significance. “If our hope in Christ has been for this life only,” Paul says, “we are of all people the most pitiable” (1 Corinthians 15:18). We don’t need to be pitied, because as followers of Jesus we can look far beyond the limits of our short life on earth and trust that nothing we are living now in our body will go to waste.
If we do not wait patiently in expectation for God’s coming in glory, we start wandering around, going from one little sensation to another. Our lives get stuffed with newspaper items, television stories, and gossip. Then our minds lose the discipline of discerning between what leads us closer to God and what doesn’t, and our hearts gradually lose their spiritual sensitivity.
Without waiting for the second coming of Christ, we will stagnate quickly and become tempted to indulge in whatever gives us a moment of pleasure. When Paul asks us to wake from sleep, he says: “Let us live decently, as in the light of day; with no orgies or drunkenness, no promiscuity or licentiousness, and no wrangling or jealousy. Let your armour be the Lord Jesus Christ, and stop worrying about how your disordered natural inclinations may be fulfilled” (Romans 13:13-14). When we have the Lord to look forward to, we can already experience him in the waiting.
Waiting patiently for God always includes joyful expectation. Without expectation our waiting can get bogged down in the present. When we wait in expectation our whole beings are open to be surprised by joy.
All through the Gospels Jesus tells us to keep awake and stay alert. And Paul says, “Brothers and sisters … the moment is here for you to stop sleeping and wake up, because by now our salvation is nearer than when we first began to believe. The night is nearly over, daylight is on the way; so let us throw off everything that belongs to the darkness and equip ourselves for the light” (Romans 13:11-12). It is this joyful expectation of God’s coming that offers vitality to our lives. The expectation of the fulfillment of God’s promises to us is what allows us to pay full attention to the road on which we are walking.
Waiting is essential to the spiritual life. But waiting as a disciple of Jesus is not an empty waiting. It is a waiting with a promise in our hearts that makes already present what we are waiting for. We wait during Advent for the birth of Jesus. We wait after Easter for the coming of the Spirit, and after the ascension of Jesus we wait for his coming again in glory. We are always waiting, but it is a waiting in the conviction that we have already seen God’s footsteps.
Waiting for God is an active, alert – yes, joyful – waiting. As we wait we remember him for whom we are waiting, and as we remember him we create a community ready to welcome him when he comes.
Ministry is acting in the Name of Jesus. When all our actions are in the Name, they will bear fruit for eternal life. To act in the Name of Jesus, however, doesn’t mean to act as a representative of Jesus or his spokesperson. It means to act in an intimate communion with him. The Name is like a house, a tent, a dwelling. To act in the Name of Jesus, therefore, means to act from the place where we are united with Jesus in love. To the question “Where are you?” we should be able to answer, “I am in the Name.” Then, whatever we do cannot be other than ministry because it will always be Jesus himself who acts in and through us. The final question for all who minister is “Are you in the Name of Jesus?”” When we can say yes to that, all of our lives will be ministry.