May 3, 2019

Christ the Cornerstone

10 reasons Christians should be joyful this Easter season

Archbishop Charles C. Thompson

“Technological society has succeeded in multiplying occasions of pleasure, yet has found it very difficult to engender joy” (Pope Francis, “The Joy of the Gospel,” #7).

This is the season of Easter joy. It is the time of year when Christians pay special attention to the heartfelt joy that is an integral part of life in Christ.

As Pope Francis observed in his apostolic exhortation, “Evangelii Gaudium” (“The Joy of the Gospel”), our modern culture has increased our access to pleasurable activities, many of which are perfectly legitimate. At the same time, access to more profound spiritual experiences, such as the joy of true communion with our sisters and brothers in Christ, seems more limited.

According to the Holy Father, all of us are seeking the joy that can only be found in the Good News of Jesus Christ. To find it, we must open our minds and hearts. Equally important, we must extend our arms, reaching out to others, especially the poor and vulnerable, to share with them our joy.

The eminent 20th-century Catholic philosopher Josef Pieper wrote that joy is an emotion that must be supported by some cause—a reason to be joyful. Joy does not exist in isolation from the concrete experiences of life. It springs from some external factor or reason. We Christians believe that the most profound experience of joy springs from the life, death and resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ.

Here are 10 reasons why we Christians should be joyful this Easter season:

  • We are alive. The gift of life has been given to us by God so that we can share in his divine life and participate in the work of creation.
  • We have been set free. The death and resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ has liberated us from the slavery of sin and death.
  • We have been baptized and given a special share in the ministry of Jesus as disciples sent to proclaim the Gospel and transform the world.
  • We are not powerless. The Holy Spirit has strengthened us with his gifts. As Pope Francis tells us, the Holy Spirit is the power through which Christ causes us to experience his closeness.
  • We are not alone. The Lord has gathered us into his Church and has invited us to intimate communion with him through frequent reception of his Body and Blood in the Eucharist.
  • Most of us have family, friends and co-workers who know, love and respect us as individuals and as members of the family of God, and whether we realize it or not, we are all children of God.
  • We are free to laugh, to sing and to enjoy the boundless beauty of God’s creation. Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI once wrote that “the Book of Revelation’s vision of heaven expresses what we see by faith at Easter: the Lamb who was slain lives. Since he lives, our weeping comes to an end and is transformed into laughter.”
  • We are invited to “full, conscious and active participation” in the liturgy of our Church and in the ministries of our parish, archdiocese and the Church universal.
  • We are free to speak our minds and to participate actively in the community life of our neighborhoods, our cities, our nation and our world without suffering from oppression or fear because we know that our true and lasting city is in heaven.
  • We are loved immeasurably. “Neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor rulers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Rom 8:38-39).

Can you identify your own reasons to be joyful? We can all develop long lists of reasons to be sad and depressed. And as if that’s not enough, all we have to do is turn on the television, log onto the Internet or read a newspaper to find plenty of reasons to be miserable.

The truth is that Christ has overcome the powers of death and darkness. He is risen! He has set us free. And he has given us powerful reasons to be joyful and filled with hope.

Let us rejoice and be glad this Easter season. Let us thank God for the gifts he has given us and for the many reasons we have to be joyful—at Easter time and always! †

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