It seems that most gospel readings are pretty intense. I can find myself exhausted by the time I finish reading them .… there’s healings and deliverance, discussions and arguments with the Pharisees, money changers in the temple, and of course ultimately the suffering and death of our Lord on the cross. Yet the other day, the gospel passage from John chapter one was relatively “lighthearted”…. A little sarcasm, encouragement, and a lot of hope. You could picture a beautiful day with a nice breeze. Take a listen.
“Philip found Nathanael and told him, “We have found the one about whom Moses wrote in the law, and also the prophets, Jesus son of Joseph, from Nazareth.” But Nathanael said to him, “Can anything good come from Nazareth?” Philip said to him, “Come and see.” Jesus saw Nathanael coming toward him and said of him,
“Here is a true child of Israel. There is no duplicity in him.” Nathanael said to him, “How do you know me?” Jesus answered and said to him, “Before Philip called you, I saw you under the fig tree.” Nathanael answered him, “Rabbi, you are the Son of God; you are the King of Israel.” Jesus answered and said to him, “Do you believe because I told you that I saw you under the fig tree? You will see greater things than this.” And he said to him, “Amen, amen, I say to you, you will see heaven opened and the angels of God ascending and descending on the Son of Man.” (John 1:45-51)
Every day of the Lord’s life was not filled with contention. There was a foundation of joy and hope and surprise. The teachings in the fields, the feeding of the thousands, the trips across the sea of Galilee, the camaraderie of the apostles and disciples, looking up at the stars during the evening, stories from the Lord that never made it into the scriptures. “Jesus did many other things as well. If every one of them were written down, I suppose that even the whole world would not have room for the books that would be written.”(John 21:25)
So for us too. We should enjoy our lives, even in the midst of some turmoil that can plague us every day. We all have our issues, big and small. But there should be an underlying foundation of joy and hope and surprise. Our community went through some turmoil a number of years ago; it wasn’t fun, yet there was an underlying foundation of joy. We played a lot of pinochle, laughed a lot, and ate a fair amount of ice cream.
We can’t allow the outward trials that can hit all of us dictate our happiness. Christ is the source of our happiness. He’s conquered our main enemies… sin, Satan, and death; we have no reason to fear… we’re on our way to heaven. We should have an underlying foundation of joy and hope and surprise. Let’s borrow that line from Nathaniel, “can anything good come from Nazareth ….. or Bayonne or Philly or even St. Louis”… well, the answer is YES. “Hey, pass the ice cream”.