Jesus intends that we be joyous

Readings: AA 10.25-48; Ps. 98; 1 Jn. 4.7-10; Jn. 15.9-17

Jesus says, "As the Father has loved me, so I also love you. Remain in my love." Note that the condition of remaining in God's love is this: "If you keep my commandments, you will remain in my love. Jesus continues: "I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and your joy might be complete."

Jesus intends that we be joyous people. We all suffer; nobody escapes hurt: emotionally, psychologically, physically, and spiritually through sin. But despite the inevitability of suffering, Jesus intends that we be joyous people.

Some examples of being joyful: How can anybody at our 10:15 Sunday Morning children's Mass not be joyous as we watch the children literally run up or skip up the center aisle to participate in the children's Liturgy of the Word, and later at that same Mass when nine and ten year old big brothers and sisters lead by the hand or carry in their arms younger siblings to receive the priest's blessing? How can anyone who observes that scene not be joy-filled, and break out into broad smiles. I hope too that we are joyous at Mass when we receive the Lord both in his Word, and in the sacrament of his Body and blood. When we hear wonderful music at Mass, doesn't that touch our souls, and cause us to rejoice? In the world of nature, have you ever stood on the beach and watched the sun rise, or relaxed on the bay and watched the sun set? On the outskirts of our town, on a cloudless night, you can marvel at the starlit sky. Don't these experiences capture our souls, and lift us up to the transcendent and eternal significance of human life, and the power and creativity of God's life?

Joy. What strikes me about joy is this: joy costs nothing: neither money, nor effort; we don't have to pay anything; we don't have to do anything. Just by being present to the beauty and goodness of God's creation and creatures, we can experience joy.

When we suffer, as we will do from time to time throughout our lives, please take the time to experience the joy of life. If you are feeling depressed, don't deny it. Face it and work through it. In the process, step outside of your home or residence hall, and see and perceive the beauty of nature: the flowers, trees, birds, animals, the sun and the stars. If you are feeling down, visit a family who has toddlers; you have to smile and laugh with the children. Children bring joy into our lives. If you are feeling unloved, stop into church and pray before the crucifix, remembering that "God so loved the world, he sent his only Son to be our Savior." If you are feeling lonely, come to adoration for one hour before daily Mass and pray before Our Lord whose Divine Presence is always with us. Don't fret excessively about your sufferings; get over them by doing something positive. A correlation exists between suffering and joy: to the extent that your heart has been broken, to that extent has your heart been opened to receive the joys of life.

The reason why we do these things is this: Jesus intends us to be a joyous people. In today's gospel, Jesus says, "I have told you these things so that my joy may be in you and your joy might be complete."

Many of the saints suffered terribly, but remained joyful in the process. They believed that Jesus Christ lived in them, was present to them, and lived through them. The saints found joy by living in Jesus for others. The saints lived with joy despite their undeniable sufferings.

High school graduates. Soon you will be leaving this parish and going on to other places. Take the joy of Jesus with you. Believe that he is always present within you, to guide and protect you. Stay close to Jesus and to Mary, and to the Church that Jesus founded. In the midst of life's inevitable sufferings remember Jesus' words in today's gospel: "As the Father has loved me, so I have loved you. I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy might be complete."

Read other homilies by Father O'Malley