EG 5: The Gospel of Joy

Vasnetsov_Maria_MagdalenePope Francis cites numerous instances of joy in the Gospels and Acts. No portion seems bereft of it: the infancy narratives, the expression of the disciples, and even Jesus himself:

5. The Gospel, radiant with the glory of Christ’s cross, constantly invites us to rejoice. A few examples will suffice. “Rejoice!” is the angel’s greeting to Mary (Lk 1:28). Mary’s visit to Elizabeth makes John leap for joy in his mother’s womb (cf. Lk 1:41). In her song of praise, Mary proclaims: “My spirit rejoices in God my Saviour” (Lk 1:47). When Jesus begins his ministry, John cries out: “For this reason, my joy has been fulfilled” (Jn 3:29). Jesus himself “rejoiced in the Holy Spirit” (Lk 10:21). His message brings us joy: “I have said these things to you, so that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be complete” (Jn 15:11). Our Christian joy drinks of his brimming heart. He promises his disciples: “You will be sorrowful, but your sorrow will turn into joy” (Jn 16:20). He then goes on to say: “But I will see you again and your hearts will rejoice, and no one will take your joy from you” (Jn 16:22). The disciples “rejoiced” (Jn 20:20) at the sight of the risen Christ. In the Acts of the Apostles we read that the first Christians “ate their food with glad and generous hearts” (2:46). Wherever the disciples went, “there was great joy” (8:8); even amid persecution they continued to be “filled with joy” (13:52). The newly baptized eunuch “went on his way rejoicing” (8:39), while Paul’s jailer “and his entire household rejoiced that he had become a believer in God” (16:34). Why should we not also enter into this great stream of joy?

The citation of John 16:22 struck me. If our hearts are open to joy, then “this great stream” is deep within us. It’s not something that can be easily dammed up or dried out.

From here, another passage came to mind in which Jesus promises “the water I shall give will become in (her or) him a spring of water welling up to eternal life.”

It seems the joy Pope Francis speaks of is not a surface thing, a veneer to convince others, or something that has not taken full root in us. But the question remains: if we want it, how do we get it? I suspect we have to ask. We have to be patient and sincere. And we have to be persistent in our desire to follow Jesus, the source of “this great stream of joy.”

About catholicsensibility

Todd lives in Minnesota, serving a Catholic parish as a lay minister.
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