May 18, 2012 - Friday of the Sixth Week of Easter

Acts 18:9-18
Psalm 47:2-3, 4-5, 6-7
John 16:20-23

Praise God! We were made to praise God. Our existence is only meaningful when we praise God. The Lord has made us to praise him. We should praise God for the many gifts he has given us. Indeed, our desire to praise him is itself his gift. Nothing feels as wonderful as desiring to praise God. This desire is unlike any other desire in our soul because it is the desire to fulfill our destiny. What could be more wonderful than praising God? The Lord made us to praise him and gives us the desire to praise him, because that is the most wonderful action that is possible.

Indeed, our desire for God is joy itself. True joy is when we feel a longing to shout out in praise of God. There is no happiness of this world that can compare. We forget about joy from time to time, and then we look for cheap substitutes, but when we have joy, when our soul is on fire with the burning desire to praise God, nothing in this world seems to have any value at all.

In such a moment, we have caught a glimpse of heaven. God has many such glimpses available, but we often turn away because of sin. When we sin, we can no longer see heaven. Eventually we stand in the midst of our sins, having forgotten the joy of our youth. Then, having forgotten heaven entirely, we begin to believe that the only happiness we can have in this world must be taken by sin. It is in this state that a Christian, no longer able to feel joy, becomes an atheist or a hypocrite, or does something truly remarkable: they repent.

Joy and sin are incompatible. Trying to feel joy while indulging lust or greed would be like trying to enjoy caviar while chewing gum. Some Christian Saints have lived without joy for a time because God wanted to test them and teach them to praise him without feeling joy, but, for most of us, an absence of joy in our lives indicates the presence of sin. We must be ruthless; do not make any compromise with sin. The sooner we realize that every evil desire in our hearts is a lie, the sooner we will be able to hear the voice of truth. The sooner the last vestige of sin is thrown out, the sooner we will be able to taste joy again.