It all began with a question I posed to my husband. Certain his answer would come from a place of love, I invited him to tell me one thing I could work on this coming year in order to be a better wife. Days passed as he thought about it, and then in an exchange of true love I received his answer- “Joy. I’d like you to have more joy.”

A day or two later, a Facebook friend posted a way to find out my word for 2016. You guessed it- “Joy.”

Joy is a fruit of the Holy Spirit. And for me it seems it has been a fruit forbidden to grow. Hopefully I do not lack ALL joy, but perhaps I have thwarted its full blossoming into the delicious fruit it should be for my family to taste.

In the book of Revelation it says, “Then he showed me a river of the water of life, clear as crystal, coming from the throne of God and of the Lamb, in the middle of its street. On either side of the river was the tree of life, bearing twelve kinds of fruit, yielding its fruit every month; and the leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nations.” (Revelation 22: 1-2)

One tree, the Holy Spirit, and twelve fruits yielded -fruits that if forbidden to grow cannot be the healing our families and our world needs.

So how to nurture the growth of this fruit? If I have been given the Holy Spirit in Baptism and in Confirmation, I can call on His power at any time. He has given me seven potent gifts of wisdom, understanding, counsel, fortitude, knowledge, piety, and fear of the Lord. These gifts help make me more alert to discern and more ready to do the will of God. They make me ready for Joy and all the other fruits: Charity, Peace, Patience, Kindness, Goodness, Long-suffering, Mildness, Faith, Modesty, Self-Control and Chastity. What fruit might be struggling to grow in your life? How can you tend to that branch of the tree?

I picture myself as the tree by the river, filled with the Holy Spirit. Its roots drink in the grace from the fertile ground, and its branches get ready to blossom. My prayer allows the seven gifts to stretch out to all branches, especially this year, the one that yields Joy.

Take care that this branch and its fruit, not wither my Lord. Bring Joy to my heart and my family.

A final confirmation came as I began my Liturgy of the Hours morning prayer the following day. Opening the pages, I read, “Jesus is our Joy. Come let us adore Him. Glory to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit. Amen.”

If Jesus is my Joy and I receive Him as often as I can in the Eucharist, then I am receiving Joy. He is feeding this branch. Without cost I have received as He feeds me, so without cost I am to give Jesus, feeding my family the fruit of my Joy..

I am moving forward with confidence that Jesus will teach me how to practice Joy in the many ways that might bless them. I look forward to the creative fruit that He will bear!

Jesus, my Joy, I want to give you to my family. Show me how I might practice more Joy. Guard the life of the Holy Spirit in me, so that this branch might no longer be forbidden to grow but might yield its good fruit in due season! Amen.


Copyright Cindy Costello 2016
Photo by Iatya Prunkova (2016) via Pixabay CCO Public Domain