Priest and paleontologist, Teilhard de Chardin said that “Joy is the most infallible sign of the presence of God.”
Jesus was a person of unmistakable and contagious joy which flowed from his unswerving conviction that God is love and loves everyone—no exceptions, no qualifications, and no exemptions. He shone with that joy, and he shared it as inevitably and as generously as the sun shares light with the earth.
He often shared his joy at the supper table, especially at the tables of people whom the stuffy religious leaders of his time viewed as unworthy. He gave and received the gifts of bread and companionship, of wine and welcome, of acceptance and gladness.
The Spirit of Jesus—the Spirit of rejoicing and reconciliation—is the Spirit God poured out on the church at Pentecost. The Spirit turns fear into love and makes ordinary life in the here and now into a festival of God’s future—a community of God’s dreams-come-true.
In that community, when we manage to live in harmony with the Spirit of Jesus, God’s good and glad order of justice and peace becomes, however briefly, a reality among us.
True to that Spirit, we don’t shut people down or shut people up because of their age, their social status, their sexuality, their economic condition, their race, or their gender.
We treat the guilty as forgiven, the ashamed as accepted, the lonely as loved, the lost as found, the strangers as friends, and the outcasts as honored guests.
When we live in these ways, joy overtakes and transforms us. Sure, problems remain to be solved and suffering still cries out for mercy; but, for a time, here and now, among us, God’s dream of a beloved community is coming true.