Meanwhile the disciples were urging him, "Rabbi, eat something." But he said to them, "I have food to eat that you do not know about." So the disciples said to one another, "Surely no one has brought him something to eat?" Jesus said to them, "My food is to do the will of him who sent me...." (John 4:31-34a)
Thoughts have been swirling around in my head for the last two weeks (since the Lectionary reading with the verse from John's Gospel above), and I wondered if my chance to write them down in the blog had passed. Today's reading from Ezekiel, however, speaks to these thoughts again. So I think I will write them down.
I believe that God loves everyone -- even those who do not believe in him. The biggest difference that I can see between someone who believes in God and someone who does not, is in how that person's life is experienced.
When you turn to God with all your heart, all your mind, all your body, and all your soul, you find that God is waiting with open arms, to wipe away your tears, to lift you up, to rejoice with you, and to guide you. Experiencing this connection with God is a high that cannot be compared to anything else. It is a connection to the greatest unconditional love that has ever been known.
When we experience God's great love for us, we become more aware of how God wants us to live. We desire to do the will of God because we love him. God's will is for us to share that love with others. And he will teach us again and again, ever patiently, how we are to do this. He will plant seeds of thought in our head, put words in front of us, send messengers, and give us countless examples to emulate. God gives us this bread and water because he loves us.
When we eat this bread and drink this water most readily -- that is, when we follow his guidance easily, without any other thought -- we find something amazing, and totally unexpected: we are filled with Joy. I'm not talking about that feeling of self-satisfaction we have in a job well done; this has nothing to do with us. I'm talking about pure and simple, life-sustaining, and overflowing Joy. A feeling that can only come from God. After breaking several cultural barriers to speak to a Samaritan woman about God, Jesus is so filled with God's love that he does not need, or even want, food.
THIS feeling, Jesus knew better than anyone. THIS is the joy which Jesus came to tell us about: "So that we might have Abundant Life." For Ezekiel it was "as sweet as honey"; for Jesus it was the very "bread of life" itself. And, remarkably, everyone has access to this joyous food. You need only to seek God with all your heart, all your mind, all your body, and all your soul.
In a book by Mother Teresa, The Simple Path, this joy is described throughout. But, in a chapter titled, The Fruit of Love is Service, which describes the many acts of love the Sisters and Brothers of Charity perform on a daily basis, as well as their personal reflections about the work they do, the word most frequently used to describe their experience is Joy.
This pure and simple Joy in life begins, and is sustained, and ends, with God alone.
Dear God, Thank you, Thank you, Thank you. Love always, Pam