A saint once said that Christian joy has its roots in the form of a cross. I suppose this affirmation can find validation in some words of Christ who once told his disciples: “Amen, amen, I say to you, you will weep and mourn, while the world rejoices; you will grieve, but your grief will become joy.” (Jn 16,20)
In another part of the gospel, Christ also said something similar: “In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” (Jn 16,33) We have to convince ourselves that despite whatever happens in our life, we always have hope and we can always manage to be cheerful and at peace because Christ in the end will take care of everything, as long as we would just exert effort to be faithful to him.
But let’s always remember that our joy in and with Christ comes always as a result of the cross, of some struggle, of keeping our faith alive despite the many things in our life that can undermine it. We should just learn how to react properly to these faith-harming elements.
If our faith is strong and vibrant, we can always manage to have a sportsman-like attitude toward the unavoidable drama of our life where the forces of good and evil will always be at work.
It’s important that we don’t lose sight of our need for joy even as we go through the indispensable exercise of penance as we traverse this vale of tears we have in this world. And that’s because, as St. Paul said, the Lord is near. He is always around and eager to help us especially in our worst predicaments. This piece of news should gladden our heart even as we intensify our penitential acts to prepare ourselves properly to receive him.
This Good News, which with faith we can consider as already done, should remind us of the bigger picture about ourselves. We come from God and not just from our parents. We are meant to be with God in our definitive state of life in eternity. Our life here on earth is simply a training and testing ground to see if what God wants us to be is also what we want to be.
We should develop the appropriate sense of nostalgia and expectation that should bring us beyond the limits of time and space, and lead us to God in eternity. That’s where we came from and where we are meant to be. And for this, we have been given the adequate means, none other than Christ himself who told us that he is “the way, the truth and the life. No one goes to the Father except through me.” (Jn 14,6)
We might find this idea incredible at first. We might even consider it as inhuman. But we need to be clarified about one thing. What our faith tells us, what God wills for us is not against our human nature. It simply goes beyond our nature. And since it’s beyond our nature, our faith precisely tells us to rely mainly on God who is omnipotent and wise to be able to follow God’s will for us that always gives us peace and joy.
The joy and peace that comes from God are always a fruit of a continuing spiritual battle to keep God’s love burning in us. It’s a joy and peace that is compatible with the cross, with all forms of suffering. It is not afraid of suffering which also has an important role to play in our life and in the redemption of mankind. With God, everything works for the good.*