February 2015

"Your hearts will be filled with joy (and no one will take your joy from you) "
[John 16.22 NJV & NRSV]

There are four promises of joy toward the end of John's Gospel. The first promise, in Jes us's farewell to his disciples is "that my own joy may be in you and your joy be complete" (15.11). "Your joy" includes all your own most joyful exper iences. Think of some of them as you prepare for this contemplation.

The second is: "Your hearts will be full of joy". That coul dn't have come at a less joyful time for the disciples, who faced losing Jesus and everything he had meant for them. The conversation took place on the ev e of Passover with its wine and songs and good food - "you will weep and mourn, but the world will be glad". It's true that they were also promised a " joy no one shall take from you", but it didn't seem likely at the time. 

We know that experience. Perhaps you can recall on e. If it was painful and disturbing, that is a sign of I AM at work. Jesus used the analogy of childbirth: "A woman in childbirth is in pain because her t ime has come; but when she has given birth to the child she forgets the suffering in her joy." Because this joy cannot be taken from us it is unlike the w orld's fragile joy - some remark makes us feel really good, another comment takes the wind out of our sails. Moments of joy are followed by deep sadness. The divine joy is a joy too deep for words, coming from the presence with us and within us of the one "in whom we live and move and have our being." It c omes from finding a new depth in yourself - the birth of a bit more of your true self. No one can take that from you once you have discovered it. 

The third promise invites us to our intercession at the end of contemplation: "Until now you have not asked anything in my name. Ask and you will receive, and so your joy will be complete" (16.24).

The fourth comes in Jesus's own prayer: "I say these things i n the world to share my joy with them to the full" (17.13). May the contemplation of this Word bring that joy to birth in us. "Your hearts will be filled with joy."