This is a “Sunday of joy,” Pope Francis said in a 2014 Gaudete Sunday homily. Instead of fretting about unfinished Christmas preparation, people should “think of all the good things life has given you.” Jesus wishes us to bring this joy, these “glad tidings,” to the poor, those with spiritual and material needs and those who are anxious about family problems.Joy, humor and laughter are an underappreciated part of the spiritual life. Most of the saints joyfully disprove the stereotype of the grumpy, dour-faced saint. Consider Pope Saint John XXIII, who when a journalist asked “Your Holiness, how many people work in the Vatican?” famously joked, “About half of them.” Then, there is the story of St. Teresa of Avila who was knocked off her donkey into the mud, injuring her leg, while traveling to one of her convents. “Lord, you could not have picked a worse time for this to happen. Why would you let this happen?” And the response she heard in prayer was, “That is how I treat my friends.” To which she replied, “And that is why you have so few of them!”
Often, in our daily life and ministry, we witness or encounter sad stories of how our fellow human beings struggle in their everyday lives. It can be overwhelming. Yet, in talking with others, we laugh together about some common human foible and it lightens the stress, even if just momentarily. We find our common humanity in humor and we all end up more hopeful.
Pope Francis calls the God of Christmas, “a God who “shuffles the cards” — he likes doing so!” It is the Lord who “fills the hungry with good things and sends the rich away empty.” Francis says to pray and give thanks to God for the good things he has given us. And importantly, bring others the Good News. Think of how we can go to those in difficult circumstances, to those who suffer. Go there, to bring a little relief, a bit of the joy and peace of Jesus. “This is the joy of the Christian.” How wonderful to recognize our blessings, share from our abundance, bloom like a flower, and rejoice with joyful song.
Adapted From Barbara Quinby’s Justice Bulletin Board