Want to transform your life? —Gospel joy is the answer…
(CUSA) – A relationship with Jesus means not only surviving during times of struggle but thriving.
This is the Christian way and what the Incarnation means for our lives right now. —Ed.
ARCHBISHOP THOMAS WENSKI–
“Joy to the world, the Lord is come!” Earlier this month at one of his morning Masses, Pope Francis insisted that Advent reminds us of our vocation, or calling, to live our own lives as Christians in “joy.” Sad Christians — or as he would characterize them “sourpusses” — give a counter testimony; for the Gospel should always inspire joy.
In the wake of his first Apostolic Exhortation entitled “The Gospel of Joy” (Evangelii Gaudium), Francis continues to preach the theme of joy and to call the Church to experience it and manifest it to the world. He proclaimed: “You can’t imagine a Church without joy; and the joy of the Church lies precisely in this: to proclaim the name of Jesus. To say: ‘He is the Lord. My spouse is the Lord. He is God, He saves us, He walks with us.’ And that is the joy of the Church that in this joy of being a bride becomes a mother.”
The Gospels tell us about times that Jesus “rejoiced in the Holy Spirit.” For example, in St. Mark, we read: “Jesus rejoiced in the Holy Spirit and said, ‘I give you praise, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, for although you have hidden these things from the wise and the learned you have revealed them to the childlike. Yes, Father, such has been your gracious will.’”
Since Advent prepares us for Christmas — and Christmas is for kids — we must rediscover how to be “childlike” in order to be open to those “hidden things” that God wishes to reveal to us and to receive them with joy.
Jesus was full of joy. That joy came from his intimacy with His Father: that is, from his relationship with the Father in the Spirit. This intimacy is the source of his joy — a joy he wishes to share with us.
Blessed Paul VI said: The joy of the Church is precisely to evangelize, to go forth and to speak about her Spouse. And also to transmit that joy to the children that she bears, that she raises. But do we experience Gospel joy? Do we transmit Gospel joy to others?
Difficulties, stress, and painful experiences are part of our life in this “valley of tears” — and, weighed down by them, can we be joyful? Yes, we can learn to rejoice in all circumstances if and when we really begin to believe that the Lord is near. Even trials can become fuel for igniting Gospel joy if embraced as invitations to a living faith.
Christian joy finds its root in the relationship we have in and through Jesus Christ, with the Father, in the Holy Spirit. That relationship not only survives struggle, it thrives in struggle. That is, it does for those who have a living faith. Through the power of the Holy Spirit the life of a believer can be transformed so that even our crosses can become sources of joy for us.
However, we must invite the Holy Spirit in the midst of the struggles of our daily living to enlighten us, to open our eyes to see their purpose, and to give us the heavenly wisdom we need to learn their lessons. Of course, we can also pray for them to be removed or relieved.
However, if they do not go away, we choose to trust that the Lord Jesus Christ will accompany us through them. As the saying goes, “If the Lord takes us to it, He will take us through it.”