wonder, awe, joy, and a swift kick to the…

i like to hike a seattle park called kubota garden. it is a beautiful japanese garden close to my house. there is a waterfall there and at the top of the waterfall are some great pine trees. great energy!! even a brief walk of 15-20 minutes at kubota refreshes my soul.

i believe the shared energy there is a gift of the Spirit

the Spirit’s gifts of wonder and awe fill our hearts with divine joy. in english, one translation is “fear of the Lord” really meaning reverence. but wonder and awe are graces. we do not manufacture them in our lives. at times, they are complete surprises to us. at times we look for them.

the gifts of wonder and awe help us have joy in our lives. taking in nature’s energy at kubota is just one manifestation of this joy

in psalm 19 today we hear:

the precepts of the Lord give joy to the heart

The law of the LORD is perfect,
    refreshing the soul;
the decree of the LORD is trustworthy,
    giving wisdom to the simple.

The fear of the LORD is pure,
    enduring forever;
the ordinances of the LORD are true,
    all of them just.

the precepts of the Lord give joy to the heart

some people think that following someone else’s precepts is stifling; that it enslaves us to what another wants or demands us to do. they might argue that it takes away the freedom to do what they want to do. without outside authorities in their lives, they actually become slaves to themselves. this is an insidious kind of slavery.

God’s law is a gift and to opens us up to love authentically. the ultimate of God’s laws is love. the psalm shows us that these precepts refresh the soul and give wisdom to the simple. God’s law is true freedom.

when we go against it– when we choose not to love– we usher in the effects and consequences of sin. we hurt ourselves, others and our world. the opposite of joy comes into our world; we are negatively changed.

for example there are consequences of the greed of rich people. in the second reading we hear the prophetic words of james (5: 1-6)

Come now, you rich, weep and wail over your impending miseries.
Your wealth has rotted away, your clothes have become moth-eaten,

your gold and silver have corroded,
and that corrosion will be a testimony against you;
it will devour your flesh like a fire.
You have stored up treasure for the last days.
Behold, the wages you withheld from the workers
who harvested your fields are crying aloud;
and the cries of the harvesters
have reached the ears of the Lord of hosts.
You have lived on earth in luxury and pleasure;
you have fattened your hearts for the day of slaughter.
You have condemned;
you have murdered the righteous one;
he offers you no resistance

instead of sharing with those in need and caring for their well-being, people who are poor are exploited by the rich. this is a stark warning. God stands with and attends to those who are downtroddened.

jesus’ words in the gospel are even stronger:

“Whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in me to sin,
it would be better for him if a great millstone
were put around his neck
and he were thrown into the sea.”

sometimes in preparation to be open to receive joy in our hearts, first we need to be kicked in the backside. grace comes to us in surprising ways at times!

the precepts of the Lord give joy to the heart

i pray that today we are renewed in God’s precepts as a source of joy in our lives. when we have joy in our hearts, we can share it with others. as always, the power of the words in the eucharist, “do this in memory of me” is the precept that showers down Christ’s loving presence into our hearts anew.

our “amen” allows us to stand before the Lord in wonder and awe: our hearts filled with joy

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