The human heart desires joy. We all desire joy, every family, every people aspires to happiness. But what is the joy that the Christian is called to live out and bear witness to? It is the joy that comes from the closeness of God, from his presence in our life. From the moment Jesus entered into history, with his birth in Bethlehem, humanity received the seed of the Kingdom of God, like the soil receives the seed, the promise of a future harvest.
There is no need to look further! Jesus has come to bring joy to all people for all time. It is not just a hopeful joy or a joy postponed until paradise: as if here on earth we are sad but in paradise we will be filled with joy. No! It is not that, but a joy already real and tangible now, because our Lord himself is our joy, and with Jesus joy finds its home.
The word of God speaks to us today of peace and joy. Isaiah in his prophecy (11:1–10) tells us what the day of the Messiah will be like. They will be days of peace, and in the Gospel of Luke (10:21–24), we are able to glimpse a little of Jesus’ soul, of his heart. His is a joyful heart. We are not accustomed to think of God smiling, or joyful. But Pope Francis has showed us that joy and holiness can work in concert.
The Lord was full of joy. His inner joy comes precisely from this relationship with the Father in the Holy Spirit. And this is the joy he gives to us, and this joy is true peace. It is not a static, quiet, tranquil peace: Christian peace is a joyful peace, for Jesus is joyful, God is joyful.
A Church without joy is unthinkable. The joy of the Church is to announce the name of Christ, and to proclaim: My spouse is the Lord, he is God who saves us and accompanies us.
The peace of which Isaiah speaks is a peace full of joy, a peace of praise, a peace—we might say—that is loud with praise, a peace that bears fruit in becoming a mother of new children, a peace that comes precisely from the joy of praising the Trinity, and from evangelization, of going out to people to tell them who Christ is.
Taking the Word to Heart
Have you ever been surrounded by a whirlwind of activity, perhaps in the midst of family and friends, and felt a sudden whoosh of deep contentment? This is what Pope Francis is talking about when he refers to a “joyful peace.” It’s the swirling flow of a dance, the soaring notes of a symphony.
Too often when we imagine peace, we think that it needs to be perfect stillness. If we’re honest, we think that we might be a little bit bored with peace. When we reflect on the life of the Lord in the Gospels, we realize he was almost always in motion: walking, preaching, teaching, healing, eating, and drinking. Even when he went off to deserted places to pray, one imagines that he was in an active communion with his Father.
Bringing the Word to Life
As you go through the activities of your day, notice the times when you feel contentment and joy. If you find yourself feeling stressed and surrounded by chaos, take a few deep breaths and bring your attention back to Christ. Remind yourself that he is the reason for all of this seasonal activity.