As I was sitting in Mass on Easter Sunday, I was looking around at all of the beautiful decorations and relishing in singing the Gloria again when I began to notice something that bothered me. Here it was, the most joyful and glorious day of the year and if you looked around at people's faces, you'd be hard pressed to realize that. Not many people around us were belting it out like we were. Many of them just had blank stares as we went through the remainder of the Mass.
Fast forward to Monday when we went to Noon Mass at a local church. The priest there gives wonderful homilies and today he was on a role about how we must, as Catholics in today's crazy world, live like the Apostles and the first Christians did. He talked about how we have been commissioned like the Apostles to spread the Good News, not so much by what we say, but by how we act.
Are people drawn to us because of our peace and joy? Or do we radiate tension and unrest? Not, as he said, that we have to be skipping and singing all the time and acting as if nothing bad ever happens to us, but when bad things do happen, how do we handle them? Are we at peace or do we complain and take out our anger on those that we meet?
Father mentioned that this peaceful, joyful attitude is especially important for the religious. He related a story about how during his first assignment as a priest, he was at a parish with an elderly, grumpy priest. Having this experience made him realize that he did NOT want to end up like this grumpy old priest. Father said he told God that if he was going to end up like this priest in his old age that he wanted to die young!
I found it interesting that my thoughts from Sunday and the homily from Monday were so intimately related. I had been thinking about what I'd like people to "read" on my family's faces when they look at us. Do they see a family that looks unhappy or tense? Or do they see a bunch of faces that, for the most part, show contentment?
I know that not every day is a good day, or even close to that. I know that sometimes people go for quite a stretch where they struggle to retain (or regain) their peace and joy. But if overall we, as Catholic Christians, cannot exude those good qualities to others in the world, how are we to ever show the world the beauty of following so great a God? How will we ever attract people to the Lord, as the first Christians did, if we don't show people His love?
This has been on my heart a lot lately, especially since the devil has been working overtime to bring strife and division to our families and Catholic homeschooling communities. If we cannot even love each other and show forgiveness and compassion to those that are closest to us, how on earth are we going to show the goodness of the Lord to those in the world around us?
We have been commissioned to bring others to Christ. We have been commissioned to turn this world around and it must start within each one of us. If our hearts do not rest in the Lord, we will not be able to live out that peace and joy that Father was speaking of today. Instead, our faces will reflect tension and strife; something which will not attract others to us.
So as we begin this joyful Easter season, my prayer is that we can take up our mission with a heart bent on turning this world around by radiating the love that Our Lord has for each one of us to everyone we come in contact with; starting with those closest to us!