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  • John E. Crean, Jr., Obl.S.B., Ph.D.

Joyful

Rarely when I read my daily office (Liturgy of the Hours) as well as another

favorite, Sarah Young’s Jesus Always (Nashville TN: Thomas Nelson, 2016), does

God “clobber” me with some particular teaching. But today, she let me know in

no uncertain terms what she wants to get through my thick skull.

This morning, the word was JOY! I usually begin each morning with Sarah’s

book. From today’s selection:


"Joy is the birthright of all who belong to Me. It can coexist with the

most difficult, heartrending circumstances. Then wait with Me

while the Light of My Presence shines upon you—soaking into the

depths of your inner being."


Then, beginning the Liturgy of the Hours with Invitatory Psalm 95 (which I

have read every morning for the last fifty years!), these words hit me right

between the eyes:


"Let us shout with joy to the Rock of our salvation! Let us sing joyful

songs to the Lord!"


I didn’t have to read very far before encountering Psalm 35:


"But my soul shall be joyful in the Lord and rejoice in his salvation.

Do not let my lying foes rejoice over me.

Let there be joy for those who love my cause."


Every Friday Psalm 51 is read, David’s lament for committing adultery with

Bathsheba and having her husband Uriah slain. In his sincere act of contrition,

David begs the Lord to


"Make me hear rejoicing and gladness . . . give me again the joy of

your help."


The psalm-prayer which follows only reinforces the critical value of sustaining joy

in our spiritual lives:


"Look upon our contrite heart and afflicted spirit and heal our

troubled conscience, so that in the joy and strength of the Holy

Spirit we may proclaim your praise and glory."


Finally, in today’s office, Psalm 100 did not let me off the hook. It deviated

not one iota from this theme of joy. Yes, we get to hear those key concepts

repeated: joy, joyfulness, singing, gladness. But what is God trying to tell me? I

don’t get it. It’s still Lent! it’s not yet Easter, right? Maybe God’s reminding me

about what I once heard in Psalm 35:


"Weeping may last through the night, but joy comes

with the morning."


Yes, I think that’s exactly what God wanted me to hear. We are about to

enter Holy Week this coming Palm Sunday, the most solemn and meaningful

week on any church calendar. I think God’s telling me “Don’t get lost in sorrow

but focus on what’s coming:


"Cry out with joy to the Lord, all the earth! Come before him singing

for joy!"

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