15th Sunday in Ordinary Time, Sunday 14th July 2019
Pope Francis in his Pastoral Letter “Gaudete et Exultate” (Rejoice & Be Glad) speaks of the call to holiness for everyone in today’s world. In chapter 4 he speaks of 5 signs of holiness. Sign No 2: Joy and a sense of humour.
Paragraph 122.—Far from being timid, morose acerbic or melancholy, or putting on a dreary face, the Saints are joyful and full of good humour. Though completely realistic, they radiate a positive and hopeful spirit.
The Christian life is “joy in the Holy Spirit” (Rom 14:17), for “the necessary result of the love of charity is joy; since every lover rejoices at being united to the beloved… the effect of charity is joy.”
Paragraph 124—Mary, recognising the newness that Jesus brought, sang: “My spirit rejoices” (Lk 1:47), and Jesus himself “rejoiced in the Holy Spirit” (Lk 10:21) As he passed by, “all the people rejoiced (Lk 13:17)
Paragraph 125—Hard times may come, when the cross casts its shadow, yet nothing can destroy the supernatural joy that “adapts and changes, but always endures; even as a flicker of light born of our personal certainty that, “when everything is said and done, we are infinitely loved”
That joy brings deep security, serene hope and a spiritual fulfilment that the world cannot understand or appreciate.
Paragraph 126—Christian joy is usually accompanied by a sense of humour. We see this clearly, for example, in St Thomas More, St Vincent de Paul and St. Philip Neri . Ill humour is no sign of holiness.
We receive so much from the Lord “for our enjoyment” (1 Tim 6:17), that sadness can be a sign of ingratitude. We can get so caught up in ourselves that we are unable to recognise God’s gifts.
Paragraph 128—This is not the joy held out by today’s individualistic and consumerist culture. Consumerism only bloats the heart. It can offer occasional and passing pleasures, but not joy. Here I am speaking of a joy lived in communion, which shares and is shared, since “there is more happiness in giving than in receiving”. (Acts 20:35) and “God loves a cheerful giver” (2 Cor 9:7)
On the other hand, when we “focus primarily on our own needs, we condemn ourselves to a joyless existence” (Amoris Laetitia)
Fr Ray Armstrong CM