by Pope Francis.
The great danger in today’s world, pervaded as it is by consumerism, is the desolation and anguish born of a complacent yet covetous heart, the feverish pursuit of frivolous pleasure, and a blunted conscience.
Whenever our interior life becomes caught up in its own interests and concerns, there is no longer room for others, no place for the poor. God’s voice is no longer heard, the quiet joy of his love is no longer felt, and the desire to do good fades.…
Many fall prey to it and end up resentful, angry, and listless. That is no way to live a dignified and fulfilled life. It is not God’s will for us, nor is it the life in the Spirit, which has its source in the heart of the risen Christ.
I invite all Christians, everywhere, at this very moment, to a renewed personal encounter with Jesus Christ, or at least an openness to letting him encounter them. I ask all of you to do this unfailingly every day.
No one should think that this invitation is not meant for him or her, since no one is excluded from the joy brought by the Lord. The Lord does not disappoint those who take this risk; whenever we take a step toward Jesus, we come to realize that he is already there, waiting for us with open arms….
How good it feels to come back to him whenever we are lost! Let me say this once more: God never tires of forgiving us; we are the ones who tire of seeking his mercy….
Time and again, he bears us on his shoulders. No one can strip us of the dignity bestowed upon us by this boundless and unfailing love. With a tenderness which never disappoints, but is always capable of restoring our joy, he makes it possible for us to lift up our heads and to start anew.
Let us not flee from the resurrection of Jesus; let us never give up, come what may….
The books of the Old Testament predicted that the joy of salvation would abound in messianic times.…
Perhaps the most exciting invitation is that of the prophet Zephaniah, who presents God with his people in the midst of a celebration overflowing with the joy of salvation.
I find it thrilling to read this text: The Lord, your God, is in your midst, a warrior who gives you the victory; he will rejoice over you with gladness. He will renew you in his love (3:17).
This is the joy which we experience daily, amid the little things of life, as a response to the loving invitation of God our Father: My child, treat yourself well, according to your means… Do not deprive yourself of the day’s enjoyment (Sir 14:11, 14). What tender paternal love echoes in these words!
The Gospel, radiant with the glory of Christ’s cross, constantly invites us to rejoice….
And in the Acts of the Apostles we read that the first Christians ate their food with glad and generous hearts (2:46). Wherever the disciples went, there was great joy (8:8); even amid persecution they continued to be filled with joy (13:52)…. Why should we not also enter into this great stream of joy?
There are Christians whose lives seem like Lent without Easter.
I realize of course that joy is not expressed the same way at all times in life, especially at moments of great difficulty. Joy adapts and changes, but it always endures, even as a flicker of light born of our personal certainty that, when everything is said and done, we are infinitely loved.
I understand the grief of people who have to endure great suffering, yet slowly but surely, we all have to let the joy of faith slowly revive as a quiet yet firm trust, even amid the greatest distress.
My soul is bereft of peace; I have forgotten what happiness is … But this I call to mind, and therefore I have hope: the steadfast love of the Lord never ceases, his mercies never come to an end. They are new every morning. Great is your faithfulness …. It is good that one should wait quietly for the salvation of the Lord (Lam 3:17, 21-23, 26).
Sometimes we are tempted to find excuses and complain, acting as if we could only be happy if a thousand conditions were met….
I can say that the most beautiful and natural expressions of joy which I have seen in my life were in poor people who had little to hold on to.
I also think of the real joy shown by others who, even amid pressing professional obligations, were able to preserve in their own way … a heart full of faith. All these instances of joy flow from the infinite love of God, who has revealed himself to us in Jesus Christ….
Thanks to the encounter—or renewed encounter—with God’s love, which blossoms into an enriching friendship, we are liberated from our narrowness and self-absorption.
We become fully human when we become more than human, when we let God bring us beyond ourselves in order to attain the fullest truth of our being.
Here we find the source and inspiration of all our efforts at evangelization. For us who have received the love which restores meaning to our lives, how can we fail to share that love with others?
—Excerpted from the encyclical Evangelii Gaudium (The Joy of the Gospel), #2-8, 2013.
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