Dear Faith Family,
Today’s Gospel is one of my favorites. When a pregnant Mary encounters Elizabeth, the latter is overjoyed and her son (the unborn John the Baptist) leaps with joy because of the encounter.
At surface level, this is a cute story about family reuniting and celebrating the upcoming birth of the Savior of the World. While it is indeed true (it’s pretty darn cute), it also is a strong callback to the Old Testament. What John the Baptist does, closely resembles how King David would act in the presence of the Ark of the Covenant.
In the book of Exodus, when David would “dance before the LORD with all his might,” the Ark of the Covenant was believed to have contained the living God. Jesus, present in Mary, the New Ark, received a similar reception from John the Baptist. We are also blessed to have Arks scattered around in parishes across the world that hold the living God.
What does this mean for us? While I may not be advocating for a dance session in front of the tabernacle, I do believe that it is vital for us to look at God with a joyous heart. If we truly believe that God opened the gates of heaven for us, how can we not be joyous? If we truly believe that God wants to encounter you, simply because He loves you, how can we not be moved?
Sometimes when we think of the disciples of the New Testament and various saints, we think of solemn people who kept their emotions in check. People that were beyond human inclination and had a hyper fixation on God. The reality is, these holy men and women were joyous, first and foremost, even in the face of fear and persecution. The joy that God brings truly can overcome all things.
Our faith is quite unique. We have a God who was willing to become man, just to be with us. I truly believe a proper response to this love, is joy. This obviously may look different for each person, but I know it’s a common denominator for all those who pursue the living God.
If you struggle with understanding the joy that God brings, I invite you to spend more time with Him. Add more intentional time to pray and listen to God.