A DIFFERENT JOY
Joy isn’t easy. Moments of true happiness seem like a brief interlude in the middle of an existence from which constantly arises pain, anxiety and dissatisfaction.
The mystery of true joy is something strange for many men and women. They still know how to laugh their heads off perhaps, but have forgotten what a glad smile is, one born from the bottom of their heart. They are surrounded by valuable and useful things, but hardly know anything of love and friendship. They hurry through life absorbed by thousands of tasks and concerns, but have forgotten that we were made for joy.
That’s why something gets awakened in us when we hear Jesus’ words: I have told you this «so that my own joy may be in you and your joy be complete». Our joy is fragile, small and is always threatened. But something great is promised us. To be able to share Jesus’ own joy. His joy can be ours.
Jesus’ thinking is clear. If there’s no love, there’s no life. There’s no communication with him. There’s no experience of the Father. If love is lacking in our life, there’s nothing but emptiness and God’s absence. We can talk about God and imagine God, but not experience God as the source of true gladness. Then the emptiness gets filled with false gods that take the place of the Father, but that can’t make rise in us the true gladness that our heart yearns for.
Perhaps we Christians of today think little about Jesus’ joy and we haven’t learned to «enjoy» life, following his footsteps. His call to seek true happiness has perhaps been lost in emptiness because we follow stubbornly in the thinking that the surest path to finding it is that which passes through power, money or sex.
Jesus’ joy is that of one who lives with a pure and unconditional trust in the Father. The joy of one who know how to welcome life with thankfulness. The joy of one who has discovered that all existence is grace.
But life gets snuffed out in us if we hold onto it only for ourselves, without finding how to give it away. Jesus’ joy doesn’t consist in selfishly enjoying life. It’s the joy of one who gives life and knows how to create the conditions necessary for it to grow and develop in more dignified and healthy ways. Here we have one of the key teachings of the Gospel. One is only happy who makes the world happier. One only knows joy who knows how to give it away. One only lives who lets others live.
José Antonio Pagola
Translator: Fr. Jay VonHandorf