Indicative Joy

Another quotation from Benedict XVI’s Beatification Homily for Blessed John Paul II:

Today’s second reading also speaks to us of faith. Saint Peter himself, filled with spiritual enthusiasm, points out to the newly-baptized the reason for their hope and their joy. I like to think how in this passage, at the beginning of his First Letter, Peter does not use language of exhortation; instead, he states a fact. He writes: “you rejoice”, and he adds: “you love him; and even though you do not see him now, you believe in him and rejoice with an indescribable and glorious joy, for you are receiving the outcome of your faith, the salvation of your souls” (1 Pet1:6, 8-9). All these verbs are in the indicative, because a new reality has come about in Christ’s resurrection, a reality to which faith opens the door. “This is the Lord’s doing”, says the Psalm (118:23), and “it is marvelous in our eyes”, the eyes of faith.

Trust Papa Benny. A grammar lesson in the middle of a two million strong celebration!

But it touched a chord with me. Since Easter, I have been meditating deeply on “joy”. I heard and read all the texts that speak of “Easter Joy” and I have realised that I am hungry for “joy”. Day-to-day life is so mundane. So ordinary. Occasional blips of interest, and occasional deep troughs of despair. I am not a naturally depressive individual (one of my work colleagues calls me “Mr Happy”), so that latter are generally not long or particulary dark (although a recent $2500 bill for an unexpected repair job on my 1996 Diahatsu Pyzar was not a welcome surprise). Yet life does seem so awfully, awfully mundane. Is there any “joy” in my life any more? Am I capable of experiencing “joy”?

My answer to that question is, in my meditation, “Absolutely!” Yet I am also aware that an essential component of “joy” which makes it different from simple (?) happiness, is it’s unexpected nature. When “joy” happens in my life, it has always been a result of an unlooked for or sudden surprise of good news. Like the shepherds out in the fields, who suddenly received “Glad tidings of Great Joy”, or the women at the tomb, who heard the declaration: “He is not here, he is risen!”

And this joy is not something, according to the Pope, that St Peter said we “might” have, or “may” have, or “should pray for”, or even “should expect”: no, he says “you rejoice”, “you have joy”. Is it because “you have faith”? If so, Lord, help my unbelief that I may have JOY!

About Schütz

I am a PhD candidate & sessional academic at Australian Catholic University in Melbourne, Australia. After almost 10 years in ministry as a Lutheran pastor, I was received into the Catholic Church in 2003. I worked for the Archdiocese of Melbourne for 18 years in Ecumenism and Interfaith Relations. I have been editor of Gesher for the Council of Christians & Jews and am guest editor of the historical journal “Footprints”. I have a passion for pilgrimage and pioneered the MacKillop Woods Way.
This entry was posted in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink.

One Response to Indicative Joy

  1. LMA says:

    You shared this with us tonight at your class and I wanted to tell you something straight away but forgot so I’m glad you had posted this on your blog. Quite some time ago, I had this discussion with a friend….what is joy and how is that different to happiness? I remember being bothered by the question at the time and I knew that I didn’t have an answer but in the business of life, the question slid by, unanswered.

    However, in the past few months, I have become quite aware of something within me that differs to many people I encounter who do not have a personal relationship with Jesus. So often I meet or speak to people who have a “glass is half empty” attitude to life rather than my “glass is half full” attitude. My life is not perfect…far from it actually but I love Jesus and I trust Him…with my life. I am not always happy but a sense of peace that comes from prayer lies within me and when I am not peaceful, some time in prayer ALWAYS helps.

    I am a member of a Charasmatic Community with a dedicated attitude to prayer and praise and when we were on retreat together earlier in the year, I heard a phrase during one of the talks that truly answered for me the question of joy….”we do not praise the Lord because we are joyful; we are joyful because we praise the Lord”. If we are people of prayer and praise and strive to love and serve the Lord, we will be filled with the joy of Christ and perhaps many times, we may not be aware of that joy within us. I am not the best of singers but if I’m a little flat or worried or anxious about something, singing a song of praise lifts my soul.

    I also think the concept of joy is absolutely connected to hope. Earlier in that first letter of St Peter he encouraged us to – “in your hearts reverence Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to make a defense to any one who calls you to account for the hope that is in you, yet do it with gentleness and reverence” (1 Pet 3:15).

    I hope that I can be that person….the one that people look at and see something different and that when they ask me what it is, I can say it’s The Lord!

    They are just a few thoughts that are a bit muddled (it’s late) but my guess is David that if people around you call you a happy person, they are identifying a deeper happines within you which sounds to me like joy. I have heard you sing David (beautifully) and I think you will agree that when you have lifted you voice in the praise of the Lord is probably when you can most identify with the feeling of joy?

    We do not praise the Lord because we are joyful; we are joyful because we praise the Lord.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *