August 19, 2012

Jubilation

Living faith produces joy--not only the interior variety, but also the external kind.  When joy is spills out externally, it is called jubilation.  Normally, jubilation is expressed in psalms and hymns.  This is why we begin Mass and the Liturgy of the Hours with song.  But it can also be a spontaneous outburst, the sudden need to rise up with the whole of one's being before God to declare His astonishing goodness.   Such jubilation is sometimes the only appropriate response to the wonderful and undeserved gift of God's presence.

King David was being jubilant when he danced before the Ark of the Covenant.   Mary was jubilant when she declared that her soul magnifies the Lord.  Many of those who were healed by Christ were jubilant.  Jesus was jubilant when He blessed the Father for revealing to the simple what is hidden from the learned and the wise.  Mary Magdalene was jubilant when she recognized the Risen Lord.  The apostles were jubilant when they shared their witness that the Lord is risen from the dead.

The source of this jubilation is the Holy Spirit.  The Holy Spirit compels us to share the wonders the Risen Lord is working in this world.  Because it is God Himself who produces it in us, there is a duty to be joyful.  Yet it is a mistake to think we are fulfilling this obligation by forcing a smile or not allowing the misery of another to pierce our hearts.  The jubilation of God bears great sorrow and cannot be overcome by it. We who are in His image and likeness must learn to be joyful in the same way.

How then do we dispose ourselves to so great a gift?   Renunciation and perseverance are two important ways we avail ourselves to this freedom to be joyful.   But this is a paradox--we discover the secret of the joy of God by death to ourselves and suffering the loss of all things for Christ, and those who stay sober and alert in the midst of all kinds of sorrows find unexpected comfort in the explosive jubilation that only the Spirit of the Lord can lavish.