“I love it when a plan comes together!” That was a famous tag line for a character in a ’70’s sitcom on American TV (I’ll let you work to find out which one). But it really does describe the feelings of satisfaction and accomplishment when all our hard work, planning, and team building pay off with a successful event or project.
I like that feeling. I bet you do too.
There really is something powerful when all the elements come together to create a space where we accomplish what our dreams have seen. The sense of pride in a job well done. The sincere congratulations from others lifts our spirits and humbles us at the same time. No one who has ever attended an awards banquet, or watched an awards program can miss the sheer joy and excitement in the face of those acknowledged for their efforts. It really feels good!
I remember a particular project I was working on for months and it came down to the day of the event. My team had performed above and beyond the call of duty. We had worked the problems out of the event and it had gone off without a hitch. It was great. At the conclusion of the first day of this wonderful presentation, all the team gathered in the back room to debrief the day. One of the main leaders of the group that had tasked my team to pull this off made a glowing report of the event and turned to me and expressed his gratitude and admiration. The whole team began to applaud and I remember feeling joy, embarrassment, and gratitude all at the same time.
I really do love it when a plan comes together.
In today’s Gospel Lesson we read some inspiring words from the Lord to His disciples about this very situation. Look at Luke 10:16-21. Jesus had sent the disciples out to spread the word about the coming of the Kingdom of God. He had sent them out two by two to share the Good News with all around. And they came back with a glowing report of their work. Why, they tell the Lord, even the demons obeyed their commands! Our Lord acknowledges their words and then says to them something we need to hear today. He tells His followers “do not rejoice in this, that the spirits are subject to you; but rejoice that your names are written in heaven.”
The truth is we will actually miss the real power of good times and great successes if, in the middle of our euphoria, we forget the central value of “WHY” we should rejoice and celebrate. The disciples were in danger of diminishing the real reason for celebration by focusing on only the results in that moment. The danger is if we only focus on the successes of the immediate, we run the risk of being captured and enslaved by pride and self-righteousness.
But, if we discipline ourselves to only rejoice, only celebrate the reason why this or that particular event or work or endeavor was successful, then we are always free to humbly pass on all the glory to Him Who gave us the grace to accomplish anything and everything.
This is a central reason why the Church has, since it’s birth, had as the focus of Christian worship, the Eucharist. This disciplining activity is meant to build into each of our lives the reality that it is the gift of God to actually commune with Him regularly that is THE life-giving power of the faith. Without this central vision and theme, we run the danger of reducing the Church to either a mere “club” or an entertainment venue. We will miss our defining “WHY.”
Today, there is nothing wrong with the feeling of accomplishment that accompany a job well done. That is both natural and wonderful. But we followers of Jesus have abandoned the empty notions of temporary joys. We have embraced the eternal. We have been given the grace to see beyond the temporary right into the bright light of forever. And with that eternal perspective, we are set free to rejoice in the real “WHY” of our joy. We have our names written in heaven. We are God’s companions! And THAT writing, that reality, supersedes and informs all my other accomplishments.
Today, let the reality of your name written in heaven, your growing and intimate relationship with the Uncreated, educate your whole life and transfigure your rejoicing and joys into the heart of our true Love. Congratulations on having your name written there and written by Him! Now, go out today and give that joy away to others, so they can have their names written too!