MOSAIC Spring 2014 - Page 6

The Joy of the Gospel Joy—A Gift of the Spirit Francis’ answer to this question echoes the words of the epigraph to Paul VI’s Gaudete in Domino: “Rejoice in the Lord always; the Lord is near to all who call upon him in truth” (Phil 4:4; Ps 145:18). Man has been created by God and for God to exist in an intimate bond of fellowship. This means that he has been made with the capacity of knowing and loving God. As Pope Paul writes, “God disposes the mind and heart of His creatures to meet joy, at the same time as truth.” Still, sin has savagely wounded man such that this disposition has been disoriented. “Man set himself against God and sought to find fulfillment apart from God,” the Second Vatican Council states. “For sin has diminished man, blocking his path to fulfillment.” The gospel proclamation is that this wounded condition is not God’s will for us. Instead, says Francis, “We become fully human when . . . we let God bring us beyond ourselves in order to attain the fullest truth of our being.” The source of this fulfillment flows “from the infinite love of God, who has revealed himself to us in Jesus Christ.” It is in knowing and loving Christ that we find joy. What, then, is joy? flows from self-knowledge. As Pope Francis puts it, “The sign of this unity and reconciliation of all things in him is peace. Christ ‘is our peace’ (Eph 2:14) . . . ‘by making peace through the blood of his cross’ (Col 1:20).” Furthermore, since essential to human flourishing is our relationship with God, the transforming power of the gospel impels us to communicate the truth about God and humanity to the world, urging us to respond to the God of love and mercy who saves us in and through Christ’s cross, “to see God in others and to go forth from ourselves to seek the good of others.” But to seek the good of others can only mean, first, that man be fully revealed to himself in relation to God. “The truth is that only in the mystery of the incarnate Word does the mystery of man take on light. . . . Christ . . . by the revelation of the mystery of the Father and His love, fully reveals man to himself and makes his supreme calling clear,” the Second Vatican Council states. Our joy in the Lord—in Christ who is the Way, the Truth, and the Life—should then generate missionary enthusiasm. “This malady is Hollywood’s exaggerated version of the Christian life.” Source of All Wellbeing “Entering into the joy of the Lord” is one of several expressions the New Testament uses to describe the beatitude to which God calls man. This believing in joy is a fruit of the indwelling of the Holy Spirit in our life. Thus, spiritual joy is a gift of God’s grace, a sign of the abiding presence of Christ, of a fundamental peace that man truly enters into by knowing and loving God, by turning away from sin, and by embracing the redemptive purpose of the cross. Francis states, “The Gospel, radiant with the glory of Christ’s cross, constantly invites us to rejoice.” He then asks, “Why should we not also enter into this great stream of joy?” Of course, “Without doubt ‘flesh and blood’ [Mt16:17] are incapable of this. But Revelation can open up this possibility and grace can bring about this return.” Put differently, this fundamental peace is about human flourishing in all its dimensions: foremost in and with our relationship to God, but then with our fellow human beings, to nature, and, last but not least, an interior flourishing that 4 MOSAIC Called to be Spirit-filled Evangelizers When the joy of the Lord takes root in our life, then we are impelled by that joy to share the truth of the gospel with others. We share the gospel because it is the truth of human existence. Thus, “The Gospel joy which enlivens the community of disciples is a missionary joy.” Furthermore, Francis adds, “Every Christian is challenged, here and now, to be actively engaged in evangelization; indeed, anyone who was has truly experienced God’s saving love . . . is a missionary to the extent that he or she has encountered the love of God in Christ Jesus: we no longer say that we are ‘disciples’ and missionaries, but rather that we are always ‘missionary disciples.’” Moreover, “When the Church summons Christians to take up the task of evangelization, she is simply pointing to the source of authentic personal fulfillment.” This is the culminating message of The Joy of the Gospel as expressed in its inspiring closing chapter, “Spirit-filled Evangelizers.” The gospel is the source of personal fulfillment for all men