Readings: Acts 19:1-8, Ps. 68:2-7, John 16:29-33

“In the world, you have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world.” (John 16:33)

The only thing worse than pain is feeling bad about the experience of pain. It is one thing to face tough times, but being unhappy about our situation only worsens things. In today’s Gospel passage, Jesus says: “In the world, you have tribulation, but be of good cheer.” Is it possible to face tribulation cheerfully, to suffer and smile? To understand the “how” of facing tribulation cheerfully, we must look into the “why.” Why should we suffer and smile? Jesus says: “I have overcome the world.”

We must be of good cheer because we are fighting a won battle; no matter what the world does to us, it cannot undo Christ’s victory on the Cross of Calvary. We must be cheerful because our tribulations are temporary; life happens in seasons and stages. We must be of good cheer because joy is a sign of victory; our enemies are confused when they see us happy despite their plans. We must be of good cheer because joy is one of the fruits of the Holy Spirit. Let us now explore these points in detail:

1. It Takes Faith To Be Happy: My motto, “Be Happy, Live Positive”, was born from a realisation that God did not create us to live a miserable life. As St. Paul would say: “Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, Rejoice…. Have no anxiety about anything, but in everything, by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which passes all understanding, will keep your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 4:4-7). By prayer and supplication, let your requests be made known to God. In another passage, St. Paul adds: “Rejoice always, pray constantly, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.” (1 Thessalonians 5:16-18). Life’s challenges are inevitable; we cannot solve all our problems, but we can at least find peace by entrusting our difficulties to God.

2. Happiness is A Sign of Victory: Develop the courage to laugh even when the world gives you many reasons to cry. As unreasonable as it sounds, laughing releases certain neurotransmitters in your brain that help you calm down and activate your creative power; you start seeing solutions to your problems. If you are stuck in a hole, you can either cry (complain, shout, make a fuss, blame everybody, insult God, regret being alive, etc.) or find even the tiniest glimmer of light and start climbing out. Paul and Silas were stuck in prison; they were facing tribulation. Their hands and feet were chained to the walls, but no one could chain their spirits. In the heart of prison, they demonstrated their strength and resilience – cheerfully sang songs of praises; behold, there was a manifestation of the Holy Spirit. Crying helps to clean the eyes and bring some temporary relief to pain. However, crying is the best entertainment for your enemies. Eventually, you have to dry your tears and activate your faith.

3. Tribulations Make Life Meaningful: Can you imagine how boring life would be without tribulations? During His priestly prayer, Jesus said: “I have given them thy word; and the world has hated them because they are not of the world, even as I am not. I do not pray that thou shouldst take them out of the world, but that thou shouldst keep them from the evil one.” (John 17:14-15). Jesus doesn’t want us removed from the world or our troubles taken away; He prays that we are protected from evil. Happiness comes not from the absence of tribulations but from surviving these tribulations.

4. One of The Twelve Fruits of The Holy Spirit is Joy: Sometimes, we forget that being moody and looking downcast is not among the fruits of the Holy Spirit. We often assume that someone with the Holy Spirit shouldn’t be joyful. However, we must not confuse the joy of the Holy Spirit with worldly pleasure. As Jesus says: “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you.” (John 14:27). The joy the Holy Spirit gives us is not in the elimination of tribulations but in the ability to remain calm regardless of whatever life throws at us. As we continue our novena to the Holy Spirit, we pray that just as He descended upon the men of Ephesus after Paul laid hands on them, He may descend upon us to revive our drooping spirits.

Today is also the anniversary of the apparitions of the Blessed Virgin Mary at Fatima, Portugal, in 1917 to the three shepherd children, Lucia dos Santos and her cousins Jacinta and Francisco Marto. The visions occurred from May to October on the 13th day of each month. Pope John Paul II was devoted to Our Lady of Fatima and attributed his survival of an assassin’s bullet on 13 May 1981 to her intervention. Jacinta and Francisco were beatified on 13 May 2000. (From Universalis App)

Let us pray: Come Holy Spirit, fill our hearts, and enkindle in us your Sacred Fire. Through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Remember, amid all challenges, choose to be happy. Live with a positive mindset and believe in God’s plan for you. God bless you abundantly. (Monday of the 7th week of Eastertide or Our Lady of Fátima. Bible Study: Acts 19:1-8, Ps. 68:2-7, John 16:29-33).

@Rev. Fr. Evaristus E. Abu