Let’s continue on Saint John Paul’s theme of joy. He devotes sections 55 through 58 of his apostolic letter to the “full joy” of Christ. What does the fullness of joy mean, and what impact does it have on the Christian observance of Sunday?
56. Beyond particular ritual forms, which can vary in time depending upon Church discipline, there remains the fact that Sunday, as a weekly echo of the first encounter with the Risen Lord, is unfailingly marked by the joy with which the disciples greeted the Master: “The disciples rejoiced to see the Lord” (Jn 20:20). This was the confirmation of the words which Jesus spoke before the Passion and which resound in every Christian generation: “You will be sorrowful, but your sorrow will turn to joy” (Jn 16:20). Had not he himself prayed for this, that the disciples would have “the fullness of his joy” (cf. Jn 17:13)? The festive character of the Sunday Eucharist expresses the joy that Christ communicates to his Church through the gift of the Spirit. Joy is precisely one of the fruits of the Holy Spirit (cf. Rom 14:17; Gal 5:22).
This is a basic starter for the believer seeking joy. Sunday liturgy can vary in time and place. Our Sunday liturgical experiences can also be vastly different week to week, season to season, and place to place. But the root of Sunday joy is the Resurrection. If Sunday does not have this quality of joy, then we might ask ourselves: what are we resisting or avoiding?
God desires people to be joyful. Jesus prayed for it. So he must have been aware people needed the assist.
And Saint Paul reminds us that one of the fruits of the Spirit is joy. Maybe other qualities surface in us because of our environment or because of our personality. But is joy in there somewhere? And does joy surface as a particularly important fruit of Sunday?