Do you ever stop to think what it is that brings you the most joy? My guess is that when you do, you’ll realise that you feel most ‘full’ when you’re in some way adding value to the lives of those around you and ultimately to the world. One simple example from my experience is that of recommending a good restaurant – I’m not sure what brings me more joy – the experience at the restaurant itself, or the pleasure of being able to share this ‘good news’ with others, so they can also experience the same joy. It seems to me that we are hardwired to bring good news and good things to others; this is an essential ingredient to being human.
This, of course, is what also motivated Jesus to do what he did for us. He possessed a joy which he knew would rock our world, so he did everything he could to share it with us, “so that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be complete” (Jn 15:11). Nothing was more satisfying for Jesus than sharing the news which he knew was good for all people in all places. Not even the threat of death would prevent him from pursuing this joy of bringing value (life!) to the world. “For this I was born,” says Jesus (Jn 18:37). Guess what? “For this” you were born too! Which is why bringing life to others usually also brings life to you – the life and joy you experience are a sign that you’re cooperating with God’s design for you.
This mission of bringing life to the world, which we’re all created and redeemed for, is the origin of true and lasting hope. Hope flows into our lives when we are connected to a life and a purpose which is bigger than ourselves. How tragic it is that our contemporary culture often promotes the opposite: obsession with our own lives, often at the expense of others.
Now you might think that you don’t have any particular ‘value’ to offer the world? Maybe you think that because you can’t save lives like doctors can, or advocate for the vulnerable like lawyers can, or preach the Gospel like priests or missionaries can, that maybe you don’t have anything much to contribute? Hardly! The truth is that you have Christ in you, and therefore God will use you to bring his life to the world, regardless of what your gifting: the only condition is that you make yourself available to him.
One of the most obvious and everyday ways you can do this is through your daily choices. Every day you have the opportunity to cooperate with the Christ-in-you and make simple choices that release God’s aroma to those around you. The way that you talk to the waitress at the Café. The effort you give to listen to the person sitting next to you in the lecture theatre. The time you take to talk with the individual who is socially awkward. Your offer to pray for those who are hurting. The risk you take in sharing the source of your hope and joy. Your generosity in sharing your talents and treasures with others.
There are so many everyday ways that you bring value to the world around you, and therefore also tap into new life and hope in your own experience of life too. Let’s be honest though. Sometimes you don’t feel like doing this stuff. Sometimes that all seems too hard. You’d rather just focus on yourself. It’s easier. It’s safer. If that’s where you’re at, it’s good to be honest about it. But then ask, am I happy? Am I fulfilled with living this kind of life, or do I feel there is more for me?
If you desire more, start by asking God every day to give you a heart for others and a passion for bringing his life to the world. Then, even if you feel unequipped, step out in some way. Sometimes the best way to stoke the fire within is to step out of our comfort zone. Maybe you could take advantage the JY Mission opportunity? Missions are a powerful way of stoking the fire! Jesus himself seemed to draw upon this strategy with his early followers. When he sent out the 72, they were far from ‘ready’, but he sent them anyway, and upon their return, they were filled with a new joy and confidence in the power of God at work in and through them (Lk 10:1-24). In what way can you step out now, so God can use you to bring his aroma to the world, and in doing so experience a complete joy?
Fr Daniel Serratore (MGL)
Fr Dan Serratore grew up in Sydney and worked in the hotel industry for eight years. When the lure of God’s call became too strong to resist, he joined the Missionaries of God’s Love in 2008. Ordained as a priest in 2016, Fr Dan has a passion to raise up a young generation of leaders in the Church.