Where is joy to be found?

Just a word… Sixth Sunday of Easter… May 17, 2020

Each of the six Sundays since Easter has called us to celebrate the joy of Easter, of Resurrection, of renewing the earth. To celebrate that joy assumes that we have it in the first place. Where is it to be found, and what exactly is supposed to give us this joy? If we have it, in spite of the circumstances we find ourselves in, why are we not all walking around in a perpetual state of bliss?

The readings of the past weeks give us an outline for pu,ng together an answer. It all begins with the discovery of the empty tomb. From there, the first disciples, individually and as a group, meet the risen Lord. “He is alive!” they shout for joy! It is easy to imagine their joy, but hard to recapture it. But recapture it we must. Because it is not enough to accept the Resurrec!on of Jesus with our intellect, we need to feel it in our flesh. Have you, have I, found the risen Lord, as a vibrant force in our lives?

Our gospel today tells us to look within, to find signs of resurrected life within ourselves. Listen again to the promise that God, as Father, Son and Spirit, makes to us — “I am in my Father, and you are in me, and I in you.” This promise makes of each of us a temple of God, alive with the presence of the risen Christ.

But, of course, there are powerful obstacles in our lives that stand in the way of experiencing Christian joy. Try peddling the idea of joy to a family who has lost a member in this pandemic; or try telling someone who has lost a job, or a business, that they should be feeling joy. It can be discouraging and disheartening, craving that joy but being overwhelmed by the circumstances of our lives.

May I offer one sugges!on from personal experience? The joy of being alive in Christ is least likely to possess me when I think that life revolves around me… my frustrations, my hurt feelings, my disappointments. Joy returns only when I turn outward, as Jesus did, to others, especially to those less fortunate images of Christ… the suffering, the addicted, the poor, the sad and the lonely. When we become a life-giving source to others, we can begin to feel the presence of God working in us and through us, and slowly, a feeling suspiciously like joy, reveals itself.

By Dr. Eleanor Sauers

Parish Life Coordinator, St. Anthony Parish