Our spiritual companions are a great source of strength, happiness

A recent study by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found that Louisiana citizens were the happiest people in the nation. The researchers cited music and food as two reasons why we ranked first.

Another source of happiness is our friends. Think of all the people who make us laugh, who inspire us and lift our spirits. Consider those who have challenged us to be the best we can be and those considerate persons who have helped us during difficult times. Our friends are indeed a source of our happiness.

A great friendship story in the gospel is Mary’s visit to her cousin, Elizabeth. You can believe that the hearts of Mary and Elizabeth both leapt for joy when they greeted each other.

Elizabeth was the wise old Jewish woman who had suffered the shame among her friends and neighbors for being barren throughout her life.

A huge misunderstanding at that time was that God was punishing someone if they could not bare a child. Now in her old age she was gloriously pregnant with John the Baptist.

Mary was a young teenager, pregnant by the Holy Spirit’s action before her marriage to Joseph. Undoubtedly, in the little town of Nazareth the gossip abounded. We can understand how Mary must have sought the wise advice and comfort of her older cousin who had experienced these hardships of life.

Elizabeth was delighted to see her young cousin whom God had blessed to be the mother of the Savior. You can be sure that Elizabeth helped Mary trust more deeply in the mysterious ways of God as she endured the difficulties that come from saying “Yes” to God’s will.

In a similar way, we carry within us the mysterious power of God’s life, enabling us to be a source of joy, comfort, and courage to one another. All of our lives have taken unexpected, mysterious twists and turns.

Think of all the things that have happened to you that you never expected, both good and bad. Think of all the family members, friends, teachers, religious and others who have been there for you when you needed a companion of strength. To recall all these is a source of great joy and strength for us.

Consider also all the people who have counted on you for strength and support in their time of need. The healing and new life you have brought to others through your friendship and loving care should be a source of great joy for you.

By our loving support we help one another understand and embrace the mysterious ways of God.

Through our reflection we realize more clearly that it is the Lord who has come to us through the care and support of the companions on our journey.

We also realize that through our loving support of others, we give Christ an opportunity to come more deeply into their lives.

Mary and Elizabeth were both struggling with the question, “How do I discern the will of God for my life and how do I find the courage to do it.” As spiritual companions, they were helping each other see God’s will and encouraging each other to carry it out.

Sometimes, we need a friend or loved one to give us the courage to do what we know we need to do.

As fellow companions on the journey, we also need to help and support each other discern the will and mysterious ways of God that will lead to the peace that Jesus promised.

We also need to treasure and be grateful for all those who have walked the journey with us in the past.

May 2010 be a great journey for all of us.