Friday, May 15, 2015
A church without joy is unimaginable
“Instead of imposing new obligations, (Christians) should appear as people who wish to share their joy, who point to a horizon of beauty and who invite others to a delicious banquet.” - ― Pope Francis, The Joy of the Gospel: Evangelii Gaudium
Gospel Text: (JN 16:20-23)
Jesus said to his disciples:
“Amen, amen, I say to you, you will weep and mourn,
while the world rejoices;
you will grieve, but your grief will become joy.
When a woman is in labor, she is in anguish because her hour has arrived;
but when she has given birth to a child,
she no longer remembers the pain because of her joy
that a child has been born into the world.
So you also are now in anguish.
But I will see you again, and your hearts will rejoice,
and no one will take your joy away from you.
On that day you will not question me about anything.
Amen, amen, I say to you,
whatever you ask the Father in my name he will give you.”
A number of years ago, a young college student was working as an intern at his college's Museum of Natural History. One day while working at the cash register in the gift shop, he saw an elderly couple come in with a little girl in a wheelchair.
As he looked closer at this girl, he saw that she was kind of perched on her chair. The student realized that she had no arms or legs, just a head, neck and torso. She was wearing a little white dress with red polka dots.
As the couple wheeled her up to the checkout counter, he turned his head toward the girl and gave her a wink. Meanwhile, he took the money from her grandparents and looked back at the girl, who was giving him the cutest, largest smile he had ever seen.
All of a sudden her handicap was gone and all that the college student saw was this beautiful girl, whose smile just melted him and almost instantly gave him a completely new sense of what life is all about. She took him from an unhappy college student and brought him into her world; a world of smiles, love and warmth.
What is joy? The dictionary defines joy as an emotion of great delight or happiness caused by something exceptionally good or satisfying. It is also defined as a state of happiness or felicity. In Catholicism, joy is a state of soul equated with happiness and it is also defined as one of the fruits of the Holy Spirit.
Joy is not to be understood as something superficial or immature. The person who is filled with Christian joy possesses an immense treasure because the true Christian can smile and laugh even in the middle of the most terrible adversities and sufferings. Saint Lawrence, when he was being cooked alive by his torturers, joked and told them to turn him over.
Sadness is certainly the epidemic of our times. A lot of people are walking around without a smile on their face. Christianity is completely opposite to the selfishness, self-absorption and narcissism of the 21st century. Christianity demands a radical reorientation of our personal lives. We must be empty of all self-seeking.
If you want to experience the true joy of Christianity, be like Jesus. Live for others and not for yourself. Be a gift for others. Family life is essential. Parish family life is essential. No man is an island. Community is essential in order to be human and Christian.
So I say "Rejoice in the Lord always. I shall say it again: rejoice!" (Philippians 4: 4)
Posted by Joe Reciniello at 6:32 AM