The Joy of Life! – Corpus Christi
Joy of Life could be very much a consequence of forgiveness of sins.
1. Cor. 11: 23 to 26:  For I have received of the Lord that which also I delivered unto you, That the Lord Jesus the [same] night in which he was betrayed took bread:  And when he had given thanks, he brake [it], and said, Take, eat: this is my body, which is broken for you: this do in remembrance of me.  After the same manner also [he took] the cup, when he had supped, saying, This cup is the new testament in my blood: this do ye, as oft as ye drink [it], in remembrance of me.  For as often as ye eat this bread, and drink this cup, ye do shew the Lord’s death till he come.
Our sins are forgiven through the sacrifice of Jesus. This is one of the hardest things to believe. Since God wanted to forgive our sins, why didn’t he just forgive them? I have given some answers to this here: Corpus Christi.
Yet Christians do not show the Joy of Life which one would expect as a consequence. Why is there the continuous fear of sin? Of course one should avoid sin, but it seems sometimes as if Christians seek out a feeling of guilt instead of a feeling of joy and a carefree life.
There are probably several reasons for this lack of Joy of Life, some of them reaching far back to the beginning of Christianity. Christianity was originally a religion of the lower classes of society. Christians were prosecuted for over three hundred years. Not the ideal condition for Joy of Life or light – heartedness.
Once Christianity became legal, it was still the religion of lower class people. Finally Christianity became the state religion of the Roman Empire in 380 AD. Then in 390 AD Rome was sacked by Gauls and again 20 years later it was sacked by the Visigoths. There were voices who blamed the new religion for this and St. Augustine addressed this in his City of God.
At this time Christianity was still restricted to the Mediterranean area. Europe was slowly converted by travelling monks. Charles the Great was instrumental in the conversion of Central Europe. He lived from 771 to 814.
There were local wars all through the Middle Ages. There were the Mongolian Invasions of extreme cruelty, certainly a cause of fear, not joy.
Then in the early fourteenth century disaster hit Europe. In the early part there was famine all over during the years 1315 to 1317. People were dying of hunger. The story of Hänsel und Gretel is said to originate in this time. Then in the middle of the same century the plague hit for the first time. This disease kept recurring throughout Europe for centuries to come. When Galileo had to travel to Rome to answer his charges he had to wait in a camp outside the city for a fourtnight to establish that he did not have the disease. Fear was all over Europe, joy was rare.
About half the population of Europe died in these first onsets of the disease. Now one has to imagine the religious mindset in those days. Religion was science! People didn’t know any better. Microscopes were invented in the seventeenth century and it took over two hundred years that people realised that the microbes, visible under the microscope are responsible for disease. Before then disease was seen as a punishment from God for some sin.
Today we smile upon this, but for the poor people of the time the matter was dreadful. They didn’t know any better and through the only explanation they had, not because of stupidity, but through lack of technologies, they thought these disasters had come upon them due to a sin which they had committed.
Dumb? These are the words of the former English National Football coach Glenn Hoddle, ‘I have got an inner belief and an inner faith with God. I do believe spiritually we have to progress because we’ve been here before. The physical body is just an overcoat for your spirit. At death you take the overcoat off and your spirit will go on to another life in a spirit dimension. I think we make mistakes when we are down here and our spirit has to come back and learn. That’s why there is an injustice in the world. Why there’s certain people born into the world with terrible physical problems and why there’s a family who has got everything right, physically and mentally.’
He could have known better, but for the poor people in the late Middle Ages could not. They were trying to heal the miseries of famine and disease by finding the underlying sin which must have caused these disasters, i.e. sins against the will of God! They were chastising themselves and they were spying on their neighbours. Witch hunts arose. Witches might have been the sinners and, if the world were purged of these sinners, God’s wrath might have been appeased. Jews were attacked, since they were blamed for the crucifixion of Jesus.
Today we know the causes for these disasters and we can smile about the Medieval logic. But Medieval people could not know. Therefore the search for sin persisted as at least the plague continued through the centuries and the search for sin has become second nature to us, whether we believe in God, or even for those who have lost faith. Joy is uncommon and we feel we have to restrict it.
There certainly is a tendency amongst Westerners to find fault with themselves and Christianity and there is the tendency to even find fault with one’s own feelings, particularly sexual feelings. One might even think that some see joy as a sin.
If the Image of God in Gen. 1: 27, as explained in Greetings from Paradise in the chapter on the Original Sin, really was Sexual Pleasure or Eden in Hebrew, why is Religion then associated so much with anti – sexuality?
The reasons for this are the same as the reasons against joy in general! When Christoph Columbus returned from the first expedition from America, his crew brought back a new disease from the New World: Syphilis. Obviously the sailors must have had sex quite unashamedly with native women in the New World and then with women from the Old.
Maybe not with wives of men who had an inheritance to leave, but why would they not have sex with farmhands. If the farmhand became pregnant a new farmhand would be born, to help with the work on the farm. If the woman lived in a city she could give the child, if she didn’t want it, to the monastery. It was one of the tasks of monasteries to care for unwanted children.
Only when Henry VIII closed the Catholic Monasteries in England between 1536 and 1541, English women would have to care for their own children and they would have found it much more difficult to find employment, since they were paid with lodging and food at large. Single mothers needed double pay! Therefore English women had to control their sexuality much stronger than their Catholic counterparts. Therefore England is renowned for its anti – sexuality, while Catholic France is renowned for its permissiveness. That’s why the Beatles used the National Anthem of Catholic France as the introduction for their song ‘All You Need Is Love’ and not the English.
But apart from this the new disease Syphilis again was seen as a punishment from God. This time the cause for God’s wrath was pretty obvious and people took to appease God by burning down brothels which existed on secular as well as on church lands.
So from the modern point of view, there are precautions to take with our joy. Just as we have to take care when skiing or riding a bicycle or another fun activity, we have to take care when having sex, but it does not mean that sex is bad. It is the Image of God!!! Enjoy it safely, as much as you can!!! Enjoy your life, be light – hearted. Do well, be sensible and know Your Sins Are Forgiven.
The LORD bless thee, and keep thee: The LORD make his face shine upon thee, and be gracious unto thee: The LORD lift up his countenance upon thee, and give thee peace.