“The joy of the gospel fills the hearts and lives of all who encounter Jesus. Those who accept his offer of salvation are set free from sin, sorrow, inner emptiness and loneliness. With Christ joy is constantly born anew. I wish to encourage the Christian faithful to embark upon a new chapter of evangelization marked by this joy.” (Evangelii Gaudium, 1)
Today is a joyful day!
It’s Gaudete Sunday. Gaudete is Latin word for rejoice, and on this Sunday we are called to pause our Advent in order to recall the joy and anticipation of the Promised Redemption. In the first antiphon of today’s Mass we could hear “Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice!” (Philippians 4, 4). These words should accompany us every moment, in every situation, even if sometimes it is not that easy.
And for us as CLM is also another reason to rejoice today. Last year on the international CLM assembly in Rome it was decided that 3rd Sunday of Advent will be our feast, when we can gather also with other members of Comboni Family and celebrate together.
This day can be very inspiring for us as missionaries. In Pope Francis’ apostolic exhortation “Evangelii Gaudium” we could read a lot about how the joy and mission are connected.
First of all we have to remember about the source of joy. The real Christian joy is different from the one which offers the world. It comes only from the personal encounter with Jesus Christ, which has to be renewed unfailingly every day. God’s presence in our lives and His unconditional love strengthens this joy. Christians has to be people filled with joy and radiating it. We cannot keep this joy just for ourselves. We are called to share it with others, that it could reach everyone, especially those poorest and most abandoned ones who might haven’t experience many good things in their lives. This is the base of the mission in every place where we are.
In the homily for the beginning of the Extraordinary Mission Month Pope Francis said beautiful words regarding this topic. Maybe some of them heard them already, but still it’s good to read it again and think about it more: “Can we, who have discovered that we are children of the heavenly Father, keep silent about the joy of being loved, the certainty of being ever precious in God’s eyes? That is a message that so many people are waiting to hear. And it is our responsibility. Let us ask ourselves: how good a witness am I?
We sin by omission, that is, against mission, whenever, rather than spreading joy, we think of ourselves as victims, or think that no one loves us or understands us. We sin against mission when we yield to resignation: “I can’t do this: I’m not up to it”. How can that be? God has given you talents, yet you think yourself so poor that you cannot enrich a single person? We sin against mission when we complain and keep saying that everything is going from bad to worse, in the world and in the Church. We sin against mission when we become slaves to the fears that immobilize us when we let ourselves be paralyzed by thinking that “things will never change”. We sin against mission when we live life as a burden and not as a gift when we put ourselves and our concerns at the center and not our brothers and sisters who are waiting to be loved.”
Today is a beautiful day for celebration united with all other CLM all over the world. But it is also a good day to reflect personally and share in the groups:
- What type of person am I? One who looks like I came back from a funeral? Or one whose life glows with fervor because I received the joy of Christ?
- How is God inviting me to return to the source of my joy?
- How am I nurturing the source of my joy, my relationship with Jesus?
- Am I living my day-to-day life in a way that allows the goodness of the Gospel to spread to others?
As we reflect on these questions, let us keep in mind that a sure sign that the Gospel is being proclaimed and bearing fruit is if joy is present (Evangelii Gaudium #21). May all of our ministry be full of the joy of the Gospel that is rooted in our own personal encounters with Jesus.