Joyful, thankful, helpful

By Fr. Roy Cimagala

That’s what the spirit of Easter should lead us to. With Christ guaranteeing our salvation and as long as we do our part, we have every reason to be joyful and thankful that in turn should strongly encourage us to be helpful to others.

This lifestyle was reflected well among the first Christians. This is how the Acts of the Apostles (2,42-47) described this phenomenon: “They (the first Christians) devoted themselves to the teaching of the apostles and to the communal life, to the breaking of the bread and to the prayers. Awe came upon everyone, and many wonders and signs were done through the apostles.

“All who believed were together and had all things in common; they would sell their property and possessions and divide them among all according to each one’s need. Everyday they devoted themselves to meeting together in the temple area and to breaking bread in their meals and exultation and sincerity of heart, praising God and enjoying favor with all the people…”

Take note of the radical simplicity these first Christian lived as a result of their faith in the apostles that in the end channeled their faith in Christ. Such simplicity led them to be joyful, thankful and concerned with the needs of the others.

We need to have the same simplicity if we really want to be joyful, thankful and helpful to others. Let’s remember that we are meant to be joyful. We may not be able to avoid suffering and pain in this life, but it cannot be denied that deep in our heart we want to be happy, with a joy that never ends.

And it’s possible to be joyful despite the many negative things that we have to face in life. As long as we hold fast to our faith in Christ, we can experience what St. Paul experienced:

“In all things we suffer tribulation, but we are not distressed. We are sore pressed, but we are not destitute. We endure persecution, but we are not forsaken. We are cast down, but we do not perish. We are always bearing about in our body the dying of Jesus so that the life also of Jesus may be made manifest in our bodily frame.” (2 Cor 4,8-10)

To keep our faith in Christ going, we have to be thankful to Christ for whatever. When we are always thankful to Christ, we open our heart to the workings of grace and the innate goodness that comes with our nature, at least that part that is still unaffected by sin.

We have to see to it that everyday, we are conscious that we are always thanking God and others. In fact, we need to continue lifting our heart in thanksgiving all throughout the day.

A day without saying “thank you” is a bad day. It’s a clear sign we are quite self-immersed only, blind to the continuing proof of the goodness of Christ and the others. We detach ourselves from them, isolating ourselves in effect and putting ourselves in grave danger.

It’s when we are joyful and thankful that we would be in the condition to be helpful to others. This concern and helpfulness for others would be manifested by desiring what is good for others from every point of view: physical, moral and spiritual, and by being always aware of the needs of others, especially their spiritual well-being.

This can only mean that we have to get out of our own shell and to actively enter into the dynamics of a life of communion. Thus, we certainly need to deepen and strengthen our sense of communion. It’s definitely not an easy thing to do, but neither is it impossible. We just have to realize that we need to constantly ask for grace for it and be as unsparing as we can in exerting the necessary effort.