Yesterday we looked at some Old Testament underpinnings of evangelical joy. Today in our examination of Evangelii Gaudium, let’s turn to the witness of the early disciples. The seventy-two were sent by the Lord with less than three years under their belts. Remember their joy on their return to Jesus? Pope Francis does:
21. The Gospel joy which enlivens the community of disciples is a missionary joy. The seventy-two disciples felt it as they returned from their mission (cf. Lk 10:17). Jesus felt it when he rejoiced in the Holy Spirit and praised the Father for revealing himself to the poor and the little ones (cf. Lk 10:21). It was felt by the first converts who marvelled to hear the apostles preaching “in the native language of each” (Acts 2:6) on the day of Pentecost. This joy is a sign that the Gospel has been proclaimed and is bearing fruit. Yet the drive to go forth and give, to go out from ourselves, to keep pressing forward in our sowing of the good seed, remains ever present. The Lord says: “Let us go on to the next towns that I may preach there also, for that is why I came out” (Mk 1:38). Once the seed has been sown in one place, Jesus does not stay behind to explain things or to perform more signs; the Spirit moves him to go forth to other towns.
So have we lost the verve of the apostolic era? And if so, why shouldn’t we be open to the grac eof Christ to recover it? Pope Francis notes that Jesus does not stay in one place. He keeps moving. So, too, we are urged to follow the Spirit: to move when it is time to move, and especially to move out of our comfort zones.