St. Sean-Theophane Venard, was a French missionary to Vietnam who was martyred for the faith in 1861. He was famous for having inspired St. Therese of Lisieux. He said, “We are all flowers planted on this earth, which God plucks in His own good time: some a little sooner, some a little later . . .” In reading these letters, St. Therese the Little Flower came to understand and use the image of being a little flower, whom God nevertheless cared for and cultivated, despite her small size. St. Vénard said, “Be merry, really merry. The life of a true Christian should be a perpetual jubilee, a prelude to the festivals of eternity.”
On this Gaudette Sunday we celebrate joy. The joy of life, the joy of love, and the joy of knowing Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior. I told you recently that the key to everlasting joy is to live a life of Thanksgiving–a life lived in gratitude for all that we have. I hope your thanksgiving has lasted longer than just one day! I find that I am most thankful, most joyful, and most loving when I am not in a hurry. Is it that way with you too? It seems the busier I get the more I am robbed of my joy. A coworker recently told me just that very thing. On Friday she said, “Mr. Valgos, you used to be so happy and upbeat–now you always seem so busy and less happy.”
I told her it’s the difference between being an assistant principal and the principal. I never have enough time in my day. It seems I’m always behind and I need to move faster, and others need to hurry up! Why don’t other people get out of my way! Why don’t they understand that I’ve got things to do, people to meet, tasks to complete?! My rush robs me of joy. Our whole world is going at a Principal’s pace, I’m afraid. And we’re all yelling at others to get out of our way. Faster and faster we go. Sadder and sadder we become. Today’s letter from St. James, our second reading, is quite clear, SLOW DOWN, be patient and stop complaining.
James says, “Be patient, brothers and sisters, until the coming of the Lord.” He uses the image of the farmer. Do you ever see the image of the old southern farmer–with a piece of straw hanging out of his mouth? He says, “Well, sir (long pause) the way I see it (long pause) a man has a few options, you see, (long pause)…” I mean, good Lord! Who has time for all that?! But farmers get it, and they have peace, and Californians don’t get it, and we’re all going crazy! It’s no wonder everyone is moving to Texas! We need some straw in our mouth!
The farmer is accustomed to waiting–he has to be patient. He plants a seed and no matter what kind of hurry he’s in–that seed will come up in its own time. You can get mad, kick rocks, complain, wave your fist all you want– the farmer knows that everything happens in its own time. What an important lesson for all of us. We need to stop trying to control every single thing. Impatience is about control isn’t it? We want everything and everyone to be on our time, doing things our way, the right way, the only way. But that doesn’t work does it? And then we’re upset and we lose our joy, and we complain against others “because if they would just…,” you know, do things our way, see things our way, do what I tell them.
St. James says, “The farmer waits for the precious fruit of the earth, being patient with it. You too must be patient…Do not complain about one another, that you may not be judged.” Today’s message is quite clear, “If you want joy, stop trying to control the world.” Let God be God, everything in its proper time–God’s time, not ours. When we finally stop trying to control others, we begin to see them for their own sake. When we stop trying to control everything, we enjoy it for its own sake, and we’re willing to recognize that the world does not revolve around us and our wants. We complain less, we love more, we discover joy in this life unto eternity–and that’s all that Jesus ever wanted for us in the first place. We are but flowers in the Father’s garden. Be patient. Don’t complain. Enjoy the sun. Love one another. And joy will find you.