As we prepare ourselves for the great Solemnity of Pentecost, May 23, Bishop Boyea invites each of us to meditate over nine days upon the nine fruits of the Holy Spirit that, we should pray, will more and more animate our daily lives: Love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faith in action, gentleness, and inner strength (Galatians 5:22-23). Today: Joy. Bishop Boyea says:
"Was it his twelfth birthday? Was it when he made his first table in his father’s carpentry shop? Was it when he spoke to hundreds of people at one time? When was Jesus most joyful? Scripture tells us, “For the sake of the joy which lay before him, he endured the cross” (Heb 12:2-3). So, it was when he faced his crucifixion and death on the cross that he was most filled with joy. This is not something most of us would expect."
"We need to make clear what we mean by this term, “Joy.” Joy is not just some mood inside ourselves which we feel because everything is going our way. No, this presence of the Holy Spirit allows us to have joy even in suffering, just as Jesus experienced it. Many of us suffer. The Spirit wants to help us get through that suffering with this gift of joy. This sounds so much like a contradiction: joy and suffering. St. Paul once wrote to the Church in Corinth: “I have great confidence in you…. I am filled with encouragement, I am overflowing with joy all the more because of our affliction” (II Cor 7:4)."
"This is because Christian joy in the Holy Spirit is not about our mood, but is rather about us living well and acting well, even in the face of our many trials in life. We find out what God’s will for us is and we do it, no matter what. That gives us joy." "Now the world will not agree with this understanding of joy. The world sees any discomfort, any pain, as a cause for grief (Heb 12:11). The world, instead, wants us to seek out pleasures, things which will make us happy and make us feel good. The world wants us always to feel successful and prosperous and even to run away from our troubles. Instead, the Scriptures tell us, “Count it pure joy when you are involved in various trials” (James 1:2). You will never see that in an advertisement on TV."
"Does Jesus like suffering and does he want us to suffer? No, he does not. But Jesus does want us to look deeper into our lives. If we truly live like Jesus, if we allow his Spirit to take hold of us, we will suffer. The world will hate us even as it hated Jesus." "Jesus asks us to make a gift of ourselves to God and to one another just as he did. We must give ourselves away. The Holy Spirit wants us to be like Jesus — to give ourselves away."
"On one occasion the apostles were arrested and jailed for preaching Christ. After they were flogged, they were released. They left “rejoicing that they had been found worthy to suffer dishonor for the sake of the name” of the Lord (Acts 5:41)." "Jesus talked about this joy a lot at the Last Supper, the night before he died. He told Peter and James and John and all the rest that they should rejoice at Jesus’ death the next day (Jn 14:28). Jesus told them that he was full of joy because he would be doing his Father’s will. He wanted his friends to have a fullness of that same joy (Jn 15:11; cf. 16:24; 17:13)."
"Being a Christian does not mean we are to be miserable. St. Francis of Assisi told his brothers, “avoid being gloomy, sad, and clouded like hypocrites: but let one ever be found joyous in the Lord". How will the Spirit help us to live in this kind of joy, my sisters and brothers? It seems to me there are three ways. First, the Holy Spirit helps us to want God and to want to give ourselves in love to our sisters and brothers. Most of us will do so by pouring out our lives for our spouse in marriage and for our children. We really have to fight our natural selfishness to allow the Spirit to accomplish this in ourselves. This focus on the other and not on ourselves will give us joy."
"Secondly, the Holy Spirit helps us see God’s hand at work in our daily lives and in the world. Where others see chaos and meaninglessness, we are able to see the mysterious ways of God. We don’t become lost, for God is at our side guiding us and we can see it. Even in the tough times we are filled with joy because God is at work in us."
"Thirdly, the Holy Spirit gives us confidence that even when the world crushes us because we are trying to live like Jesus, the world ultimately cannot win — Jesus has already won. He won that victory in his death and resurrection. That is why he was filled with joy at the Last Supper. That confidence gives us joy no matter how powerful the world may seem to be. So be like Christ. Embrace his cross. Become heroic in the face of all the pressures of this world. Do not be gloomy about this, but rather “ever be found joyous in the Lord.”