13 May 2016
As Pope Francis reminds us, there is joy in the gospel. There is joy in being a Catholic Christian. There is joy in sharing the Christian life with others. There is joy in having Christ as our most intimate companion through life. But, the joy of the gospel is, well . . . it’s different.
We have here today a snapshot of the joy that Saints Peter and Paul experienced. Paul was arrested, dragged before the Sanhedrin, left in limbo for a while waiting for Caesar, and eventually beheaded. Peter, on the other hand, was told by Jesus that he’d be taken to places he’d probably rather not go. They both suffered for love of God, and they had joy in that.
Gospel joy isn’t worldly joy. Gospel joy comes from sticking with it, especially when the going gets rough. It’s the kind of joy athletes feel when they push themselves. It’s the joy newlyweds have after they make it through their first big fight; and they make it through together, and love each other even more because of it.
There is joy in the gospel. There’s joy in being a Catholic Christian. But it’s joy which comes with a price. And the price is: Commitment . . . commitment through thick and thin. There is joy in Christianity; and it’s the joy of sacrificial love.
As we approach the Altar to receive that Sacrament of sacrificial love, we do it with joy. Not superficial joy, but the joy of a people who are committed to God—to God who is joyfully, sacrificially committed to us.