The Joy Of Real Religion

Tuesday of Week 2 in Advent

Is. 40:1-11 & Mt. 18:12-14

We Catholics believe in God. We have accepted the moral code of Jesus and make attempts to live it. We are involved in the Church and receive her Sacraments. We can recite the Creed. Do our lives radiate gladness, that joy, that shines forth from all the pages of the New Testament? If not it seems to me that herein lies one of the major differences between the faith we profess and the faith of the early followers of Jesus.

Joy is an essential part of our readings for today. Isaiah has a joyful message to proclaim: that our sins have been atoned. God is like a shepherd gathering his sheep together and joyfully feeding and protecting them.

In the Gospel Jesus speaks of His joy when a lost soul is reclaimed. He tells the story of the man who owns a hundred sheep, and one of them wanders away. Will he not leave the ninety nine out on the hills and go in search of the stray? If he succeeds in finding it he is happier about this one than about the ninety nine that did not wander away.

A similar story is told about a man who lived in a lighthouse. A visitor said to him, 'Aren't you terribly lonely out here?' The keeper without hesitating replied, ‘Not since I saved my first ship.' The joys of life are many and varied, but few if any exceed the joy of participating in a rescue.

That's what real religion is all about. That is what Jesus has called you and me to do, to find sheep lost in the hills and bring them back to the fold, to find ships lost in a storm and guide then safely to harbour. That is the joy of real religion. Do you and I possess it?

Lord Jesus, every person is precious to you. There are many who have never known you and others who have lost their way. May the joy we have in following You lead others back to Your love.