Victory and Joy

Zephaniah 3:14-18a

Today we have heard a couple of delightfully uplifting readings. The first reading from Zephaniah can be used in meditation as a personal message from the Lord.  It's positive and encouraging and reassuring, not only because it promises victory over our troubles, but also because it says that God himself sings joyfully about each of us!


How does God sing joyfully?  He sings joyfully when we persist through our difficulties, when we rely on his help to reach the kind of victory that only his Son provides through his resurrection. He finds joy when we find solutions through him and not through our reliance and focus on ourselves, a focus that separates us from him and others.


When we pray, in our mind’s eye, do we see Jesus as full of joy? Or do we picture him as somber or stern?  Do we see him as affirming our goodness or denouncing our shortcomings?


Joy is central to our faith and one of God's main attributes. It's one of the fruits of living in the will of God, a blessing from the Holy Spirit. It allows us to sing with Isaiah in today's responsorial: "My strength and my courage is the Lord”, a similar sentiment to the more widely known verse in Psalms 28, “The joy of the Lord is our strength.”  We draw strength from the victory Jesus won for us through his resurrection.


So often, when God invites us to be closer to him, when he invites us to share in the joy of his resurrection, we miss the signal. We can easily let the weight of the world, our sin, or the rejections we have experienced in the past, get to us.  We can get angry or upset and find ourselves obsessing over the real or imagined problems that we face. 


Taking joy in the resurrection means we turn our eyes away from those things and look intently at the realities God wants us to focus on.  It does us no good to get bogged down with fear over the problems that come our way.  Instead, our Lord is calling us to address our problems through the lens of faith. He is calling us to look to His victory! 


With the Blessed Mother, whose Feast of the Visitation we celebrate today, we can sing her song from the Gospel: "My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord; my spirit rejoices in God my Savior, for he has looked with favor on his lowly servant...the Almighty has done great things for me, and holy is his Name."


No matter how bad things seem, no matter how bleak or disastrous our trials appear to be, God does look with favor upon us, simply because he knows our desire to handle our challenges the Christian way, even though we may turn our back on him at times. "He has mercy on those who fear him” as Mary said, “He has shown the strength of his arm"

There’s an old glorious hymn that affirms where we should place our focus and aim our gaze.  The lyrics say, “Turn your eyes upon Jesus. Look full in his wonderful face, and the things of the earth will grow strangely dim, in the light of His glory and grace.”


Looking at his victory is liberating and produces an incredible faith in our lives.  And that faith in the Risen Lord will generate the wonderful joy that God wants us to have. 


Let us reflect today upon our own reactions to the reality of the Resurrection.  Let’s spend some time today gazing (in our mind’s eye) upon his wonderful face. Jesus invites us to a deeper relationship with him today.  With our eyes fixed on Him, all else that tempts us to feel discouragement will likely fade from focus.


And so we pray, Lord, we do want to place our gaze upon you.  We want to see your glory manifested in our lives.  Help us to trust you in our most painful and frightening moments, knowing that your grace will sustain us through them all, and deliver to us the victory and the joy that you want for each of us!




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