Joy Complete

Joy Complete by Don M.

Don M..jpg

I had only two issues with the immersion trip to Jamaica. One, it was over before I had a chance to unpack the last can of mosquito spray. Two, the natives continually misspelled the name of their own country.

Absurd! Embarrassing!

Well, regardless of their insistence, I prefer my version: Joymaica.

There was no shortage of joy during our one-week excursion. It wasn’t only seen and heard; it was felt. It penetrated the depths of my soul and settled there, shaking me from my slumber. I can run down a long list of things we have at home that Jamaica doesn’t. But what Jamaica has and demonstrates in abundance—unashamedly and indisputably—is joy.

It is a classic case of quality over quantity. Throw out all the numbers. The 4% Catholics in Jamaica. The 95% of children born to single mothers. They matter, sure. But then they don’t. Back home, we are too process-oriented in our parishes. Everything has to go according to the book. You know, basically the kind of stuff that Jesus warned the Pharisees about over and over until his throat ached. Not so in Jamaica. I am not even sure they have a book. They don’t need one!

Back home, there are meetings to attend and papers to push and money to squeeze out of a turnip. Who has time to be joyful? In Jamaica, a woman named “Auntie” Delta welcomed us to tiny St. Paul’s church on the hill with a genuine embrace, an upbeat hymn (including tambourine accompaniment!), and a resounding conversion story that had me ready to quit my job. Through Delta and so many others, the Gospel wasn’t confined between dusty pages; instead it sprang to life!

Oh yes, Jesus is alive and well in Jamaica, clapping and singing all the way to the church and back. And I saw Him. I saw Him in the faces of the marginalized and mentally challenged, the disabled and downtrodden. But Christ’s light shone through the caregivers and the clergy, too. He was in the people who worshipped with us, waited on us, taught us, and transported us. Yes, Jesus was in every breathtaking nook and cranny of that broken but beautiful country. At the Last Supper, Jesus said to the Apostles, “I have told you this so that my joy might be in you and your joy might be complete.” (John 15:11).

Jamaica may lack many things but His joy is not one of them; there may be many unfinished things about Jamaica, but its joy is genuine, it is contagious, and it is complete.