i’m reading “the book of joy.” it captures various dialogues between two long time friends: his holiness the dalai lama and archbishop desmond tutu. they discuss the various aspects of the theme of joy and the obstacles of realizing it in today’s world. this picture of the two friends dancing captures the essence of the joy in their friendship.
in reading this insightful book, i often find myself smiling and feeling the warmth of their joy. the Spirit moves through their words, wisdom and friendship. i cannot help but think of the scripture from chapter six of luke’s gospel
“A good tree does not bear rotten fruit, nor does a rotten tree bear good fruit. For every tree is known by its own fruit. For people do not pick figs from thornbushes, nor do they gather grapes from brambles. A good person out of the store of goodness in his heart produces good, but an evil person out of a store of evil produces evil; for from the fullness of the heart the mouth speaks.”
while i have highlighted many parts of this book, the real joy– the real good fruit– that is shared through its pages is the deep respect, playfulness and joy in the friendship between the dalai lama and dsemond tutu. it is both attractive, captivating, and inspirational to witness this special relationship.
it mirrors the relationship between jesus and his disciples. they shared lives with one another in their tears, wonder and awe, misunderstandings, hardship, and indeed joy. love developed because of this shared joy. the disciples experienced the kingdom of God that jesus taught and desired to be part of it. they did not understand it at first but their understanding grew in time. the disciples especially struggled with the meaning of suffering and death in the life of their friend jesus and his mission at calvary.
living in the kingdom of God becomes a source and compass for life and deep joy. this reign will change the lives of the disciples forever– especially after the outpouring of the Spirit at pentecost– and the world would never be the same. it started with joy in a unique friendship with jesus as lord.
there are echoes of one of my favorite bible verses:
For the kingdom of God is not a matter of food and drink, but of justice, peace, and joy in the holy Spirit (Romans 14: 17)
i thank God for people like the dalai lama and desmond tutu who exemplify the reign of God in our often confused world. i thank God for their friendship that sheds light on what true joy in our lives can be. i thank the Spirit who moves in the friendship of all of us with the One who has loved us first.
let us pray:
Star of the new evangelization,
help us to bear radiant witness to communion,
service, ardent and generous faith,
justice and love of the poor,
that the joy of the Gospel
may reach to the ends of the earth,
illuminating even the fringes of our world.
Mother of the living Gospel,
wellspring of happiness for God’s little ones,
pray for us. Amen. Alleluia!
( from https://www.usccb.org/prayers/pope-francis-prayer-joy-gospel )