"Complete my joy by being of the same mind, with the same love," Paul writes. Have you noticed how much joy can be participated in merely by staying in God’s will? Paul takes it a step farther. Somehow, as other people do this, he finds joy.
A few weeks ago in an evening RCIA class, the instructor, a professional therapist, was talking about images of Christ. He mentioned his own personal image of how frequently Jesus chooses marginalized people and those who society had rejected. Additionally, he shared how he was at his best when he was doing what Jesus has always done. I thought back to our founder, St. Paul of the Cross, who talks about aligning our will with the divine will of God. It seems that if we find ourselves doing what Jesus did, that should be a good definition of holiness.
As this instructor was speaking about the poor and the marginalized and how he personally felt called by the Lord to this work, I couldn’t help but think about John 12:8. "The poor you always have with you, but me you will not always have." Some have interpreted this as a judgment back to Dt. 15 especially verse 11 with the covenant relationship the people made with the Lord. However, this particular night, this statement inspired me in a new way. For if someone finds fulfillment in helping the poor, and Jesus promises to have the poor with us always, then there’s also not only a lot of good work to be done, but also a lot of joy in that there will be plentiful opportunities to be in God’s will.
In the Gospel, when Jesus instructs us to throw parties for people who cannot repay, then there is truly something there that is not self-serving. Those who are always seeking a quality return on their investment won’t be able to find joy or delight in a one way gift or an un-repayable act of generosity. God will NEVER be outdone in generosity. So by inviting those who can’t pay you back, they can only share with you something beyond material possessions, they can share with you their gratitude and their joy. And as the commercial says, "That’s Priceless!"
Fr. David Colhour, C.P. is the pastor of St. Agnes Parish in Louisville, Kentucky.