- We should be grateful to the Lord our God, for putting us to the test, as he did our forefathers. Recall how he dealt with Abraham, and how he tried Isaac, and all that happened to Jacob in Syrian Mesopotamia while he was tending the flocks of Laban, his mother’s brother. Not for vengeance did the Lord put them in the crucible to try their hearts, nor has he done so with us. It is by way of admonition that he chastises those who are close to him.
- Go, eat rich foods and drink sweet drinks, and allot portions to those who had nothing prepared; for today is holy to our LORD. Do not be saddened this day, for rejoicing in the LORD is your strength!
- Those who sow in tears will reap rejoicing.
- For his anger lasts but a moment; his favor a lifetime. At dusk, weeping comes for the night; but with the dawn, rejoicing.
- You turned my mourning into joy; you took off my sackcloth and clothed me with gladness.
- And he brought forth his people with joy, and his chosen with gladness.
Make me hear rejoicing and gladness,
that the bones you have crushed may revive.
From my sins turn away your face
and blot out all my guilt.
A pure heart create for me, O God,
put a steadfast spirit within me.
Do not cast me away from your presence,
Nor deprive me of your holy spirit.
Give me again the joy of your help;
with a spirit of fervor sustain me,
that I may teach transgressors your ways
and sinners may return to you.
- Comfort, comfort my people.
- Though young men faint and grow weary, and youths stagger and fall, they that hope in the LORD will renew their strength, they will soar as with eagles' wings; they will run and not grow weary, walk and not grow faint.
10 For thus says the LORD: Only after seventy years have elapsed for Babylon will I deal with you and fulfill for you my promise to bring you back to this place
11 For I know well the plans I have in mind for you—oracle of the LORD—plans for your welfare and not for woe, so as to give you a future full of hope.
12 When you call me, and come and pray to me, I will listen to you.
13 When you look for me, you will find me. Yes, when you seek me with all your heart,
14 I will let you find me—oracle of the LORD—and I will change your lot; I will gather you together from all the nations and all the places to which I have banished you—oracle of the LORD—and bring you back to the place from which I have exiled you.
27 Take courage, my children; call out to God!
The one who brought this upon you will remember you.
28 As your hearts have been disposed to stray from God,
so turn now ten times the more to seek him;
29 For the one who has brought disaster upon you
will, in saving you, bring you eternal joy.
- Do not be afraid. Listen, I bring news of great joy a joy to be shared by the whole people. Today, in the town of David a savior has been born to you; he is Christ the Lord.
- Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.
- Well done, good and faithful servant. You have been faithful over a little; I will set you over much. Enter into the joy of your Master.
- I believe; help Thou my unbelief.
2 Consider it all joy, my brothers, when you encounter various trials,
3 for you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance.
4 And let perseverance be perfect, so that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.
- testing --> perseverance --> completion --> joy!
12 Beloved, do not be surprised that a trial by fire is occurring among you, as if something strange were happening to you.
13 But rejoice to the extent that you share in the sufferings of Christ, so that when his glory is revealed you may also rejoice exultantly.
14 If you are insulted for the name of Christ, blessed are you, for the Spirit of glory and of God rests upon you.
15 But let no one among you be made to suffer as a murderer, a thief, an evildoer, or as a meddler.
16 But whoever is made to suffer as a Christian should not be ashamed but glorify God because of the name.
- For the sake of the joy that was set before Him, He endured the Cross, heedless of its shame.
- Jesus' suffering did not annihilate His joy. It was because of His joy that He could endure His agonies. He was not defeated by suffering and death; He triumphed over the great evil done to Him by passing through it.
- Rejoice in the Lord always. I say it again: rejoice! Your kindness should be known to all. The Lord is near. Have no anxiety at all, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, make your requests known to God. Then the peace of God that surpasses all understanding will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.
- Suffering is evil. We do not rejoice in the evil, but in the presence of the Lord, who is with us in our suffering.
- 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.
- For the Lamb who is in the center of the throne will shepherd them and lead them to springs of life-giving water, and God will wipe away every tear from their eyes.
- George Gordon Lord Byron
- All who would win joy must share it; happiness was born a twin.
- Bl. John Henry Newman
- Fr. Jake Randall, Notre Dame Charismatic Conference, circa 1982
|The last word is joy.|
- Years ago, in response to the question of why God allows innocent suffering, I blurted out, "Because it is more fun that way." God is the source of all joy and happiness. He is the creator of all that brings us delight--every form of beauty that makes us open our eyes wide in surprise and wonder. Jesus presents himself as the Bridegroom and portrays Heaven as a wedding feast. When His mother told Him that there was no more wine for the party in Cana, He supplied at least 120 gallons, or about 600 bottles of wine. This is just a small sign of His measureless love, for when He gives us Himself, whole and entire, under the appearance of bread and wine, He gives us His Father, His Spirit, and, I speculate, the whole of the Communion of Saints--all for the fun of it! God is under no law or any kind of compulsion to love us. He does not act grudgingly, as I do when I have to pay a penalty for my transgressions or a tax for the good of the community. In joy, He created us; in joy, He redeemed us; in joy, we will live with Him forever.
- So, yes, "the last word is joy." So is the first Word, by which the Father and the Spirit brought all things into being. "God loves a cheerful giver" (2 Cor 9:7) because He Himself is a cheerful giver.
- Love has the final say. Love wins--love conquers all!
- Julian of Norwich
- "And all shall be well again, and all manner of things shall be well again, I know."
- Blessed Mother Teresa of Calcutta
- Joy is a net of love by which you can catch souls. A joyful heart is the inevitable result of a heart burning with love.
- George Mallory
- "So, if you cannot understand that there is something in man which responds to the challenge of this mountain and goes out to meet it, that the struggle is the struggle of life itself, upward and forever upward, then you won't see why we go. What we get from this adventure is just sheer joy. And joy is, after all, the end of life. We do not live to eat and make money. We eat and make money to be able to enjoy life. That is what life means and what life is for" (quoted by Nick Heil in Dark Summit: The True Story of Everst's Most Controversial Season, (New York: Henry Holt, 2008), p. 55-56).
We are called--and empowered!--to "rejoice always."
God is not bored, and God is never boring. He created us to be party animals, and He is the life of the party that will never end.
"The Lord takes delight in his people"
Sing to the LORD a new song,
his praise in the assembly of the faithful.
2 Let Israel be glad in its maker,
the people of Zion rejoice in their king.
3 Let them praise his name in dance,
make music with tambourine and lyre.
4 For the LORD takes delight in his people,
honors the poor with victory.
5 Let the faithful rejoice in their glory,
cry out for joy on their couches,
6 With the praise of God in their mouths,
and a two-edged sword in their hands,
7 To bring retribution on the nations,
punishment on the peoples,
8 To bind their kings in shackles,
their nobles in chains of iron,
9 To execute the judgments decreed for them—
such is the glory of all God’s faithful.
Resistance to joy
In some of the twelve step programs, members are advised to "identify, not compare" when listening to others' accounts of "experience, strength, and hope." Something in me resists identifying with Jesus. It says, "He can't understand me. He never sinned. He did not know the anguish of shame, guilt, and depression. He is so different from me that he can't help me." The twelve step people call this "terminal uniqueness."
When I'm in my right mind, I see that it is good that Jesus is "like us in all things except sin" (Heb 4:15). That enmity in me to my savior is as stupid as a drowning man saying, "That man who is walking on the water can't help me. He has no idea what I'm going through. He isn't drowning. He is safe and secure. What good is he to me?"
Jesus didn't come to "feel our pain." He came to destroy that which is destroying us. His joy is the rock that saves us.
"I resolved to know nothing while I was with you except Jesus Christ and him crucified" (1 Corinthians 2:2).
It doesn't have to be perfect ...
- to be good.
- to be beautiful.
- to be effective.
- to be of God.
- to be given to God.
- “Lord, I have let myself be deceived; in a thousand ways I have shunned your love, yet here I am once more, to renew my covenant with you. I need you. Save me once again, Lord, take me once more into your redeeming embrace” (§3).
- Zephaniah, who presents God with his people in the midst of a celebration overflowing with the joy of salvation. I find it thrilling to reread this text: “The Lord, your God is in your midst, a warrior who gives you the victory; he will rejoice over you with gladness, he will renew you in his love; he will exult over you with loud singing, as on a day of festival” (3:17; §4).
- 5. The Gospel, radiant with the glory of Christ’s cross, constantly invites us to rejoice. A few examples will suffice. “Rejoice!” is the angel’s greeting to Mary (Lk 1:28). Mary’s visit to Elizabeth makes John leap for joy in his mother’s womb (cf. Lk 1:41). In her song of praise, Mary proclaims: “My spirit rejoices in God my Savior” (Lk 1:47). When Jesus begins his ministry, John cries out: “For this reason, my joy has been fulfilled” (Jn 3:29). Jesus himself “rejoiced in the Holy Spirit” (Lk 10:21). His message brings us joy: “I have said these things to you, so that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be complete” (Jn 15:11). Our Christian joy drinks of the wellspring of his brimming heart. He promises his disciples: “You will be sorrowful, but your sorrow will turn into joy” (Jn 16:20). He then goes on to say: “But I will see you again and your hearts will rejoice, and no one will take your joy from you” (Jn 16:22). The disciples “rejoiced” (Jn 20:20) at the sight of the risen Christ. In the Acts of the Apostles we read that the first Christians “ate their food with glad and generous hearts” (2:46). Wherever the disciples went, “there was great joy” (8:8); even amid persecution they continued to be “filled with joy” (13:52). The newly baptized eunuch “went on his way rejoicing” (8:39), while Paul’s jailer “and his entire household rejoiced that he had become a believer in God” (16:34). Why should we not also enter into this great stream of joy?
- 6. There are Christians whose lives seem like Lent without Easter.
- Consequently, "an evangelizer must never look like someone who has just come back from a funeral! Let us recover and deepen our enthusiasm, that “delightful and comforting joy of evangelizing, even when it is in tears that we must sow… And may the world of our time, which is searching, sometimes with anguish, sometimes with hope, be enabled to receive the good news not from evangelizers who are dejected, discouraged, impatient or anxious, but from ministers of the Gospel whose lives glow with fervor, who have first received the joy of Christ.”
- Paul VI, Apostolic Exhortation Evangelii Nuntiandi (8 December 1975), 80: AAS 68 (1976), 75.
- "When Christmas Isn't Christmas." Reflections on and antidotes for those who are having a "Blue Christmas."
- "Apostolic Exhortation Evangelii Gaudium.--"The Joy of the Gospel."