April 11, 2021
Today we continue to celebrate Easter and deepen our appreciation for living in the wake of the Resurrection of Christ. Our liturgy presents us a central theme of the Easter season: GOSPEL JOY. We all need it. It enlivens our spirits.
What is true joy? Perhaps we sometimes mistake it for laughter, jokes or noisy parties. And yet, it is precisely in the midst of that noise that people often feel, even if they don’t recognize it, truly lonely and empty. There is something lacking. True joy, however, is frequently not shown in noisy laughter. There is something much deeper, such as an interior ground of security that provides true joy. Gospel joy is much more profound than having a giddy passing day of fun. Gospel joy is an outlook, a grace from God, which gives direction and purpose to our lives.
In today’s readings we are told several times about joy. The first Christians felt the joy of sharing everything they had and living in a community united in prayer and in spirit. They sold their properties, gave everything they had and were often persecuted both by their own people and by the Romans. And yet, they sang songs, and were joyful. In the second reading we hear about the difficulties, persecutions and pain they endured in that first century of following the Risen Christ, yet the community was encouraged to a deep and joyful hope. And in the Gospel we see how the recognition of Jesus fills the disciples with joy, despite all their fears. Joy is the certainty of being with God.
Sometimes, like Thomas, we can feel doubts about the reality and presence of God. Perhaps all appearances indicate the contrary, but joy is to be found in the search for the face and voice and will of God in our lives. Joy is in living the life of God, his salvation, and his love in the midst of any painful or dangerous circumstance in which we find ourselves. Gospel joy animates our lives with the spiritual impulse to persevere in the life of Christ, and to fulfill the deepest desires of the human heart.
Perhaps joy is not always expressed in laughter, although laughter often helps mental and physical health; but joy is always security, that is security in Christ. It means having a focus in life to do everything better, making the lives of others pleasant, their load easier to carry, improves our work, and facilitates relationships. And that joy can only be given by the presence of God in our lives. Let us pray that Gospel joy may fall fresh into our hearts again this Easter season.