8TH WEEK IN ORDINARY TIME
With each contribution show a cheerful countenance.
Keeping the law—check!
Following Church teachings—check!
Serving our family and parish—check!
Doing it all with a smile on your face—um . . . , Lord, have mercy on me!
You probably know what this feels like, right? You know you are trying your absolute best to serve God in every situation. You don’t think you have much more to offer him. Then comes the command to do all of this with a “cheerful countenance” (Sirach 35:11), and all bets are off! How can you possibly maintain such a joyful disposition?
Luckily, the Book of Sirach gives us the answer in the very next verse: “The Lord is one who always repays, and he will give back to you sevenfold” (35:13). God sees your efforts. He sees your desire to please him. He sees every time you strive to greet a challenge with a sense of hope and confidence in him. And not only does he see; he promises to reward you. What could be better than that?
Of course, this reward probably won’t be a material reward like a pay raise or a new car. That’s not what God’s love looks like. He isn’t a God of transactions and spreadsheets. He is a God whose love for us is so strong that every time we experience it, our joy and our desire to be like him grow stronger.
The reward, in other words, is God himself. It’s Jesus and his Spirit living and active in your heart, changing you and transforming you bit by bit.
The Lord always repays. Sevenfold. That’s quite a promise! Every diaper you change, every meal you make, every time you help someone out—it will all come back to you, not double, or even triple, but sevenfold! Just knowing this can be enough to make you smile. And for those times when you just can’t muster up the energy, you can always tell the Lord that you’re at least willing to be joyful if he will help you.
There’s no doubt that life can be hard, and being cheerful can be even harder. Jesus knows this even better than we do. So when he promises to reward your efforts, you can believe him. It’s worth the effort. He is worth the effort!
“Lord, help me to face each situation with a joyful, cheerful heart.”
Psalm 50:5-8, 14, 23