Fr Stefan reflects on ‘Joy of the Gospel’ by Pope Francis

Pope Francis writes, “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 trilling to reread this text: ‘The Lord, your God is in your midst, a warrior who gives you the victory; he will rejoice over you in his love, he will exult over you with loud singing, as on a day of festival. (3:17)…The Gospel, radiant with the glory of Christ’s cross, constantly invites us to rejoice, A few examples will suffice. “Rejoice”!” is the angel’s greeting to Mary (Lk 1:28) Mary’s visit to Elizabeth makes John leap for joy in his mother;s womb. (Lk 1:41) In her song of praise, Mary proclaims: ‘My spirit rejoices in God my Saviour.’ (LK 1:47)..His message brings us joy: ‘I have said these things to you, so that my my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be complete.'(JN 15:11)

One of the things that Pope Francis has reminded the church is that we must be people of joy. No matter how correct our doctrine is if we are not people of joy our message is not credible. Pope Francis says we must not look like we have just come from a funeral.  He reminds us that we are to pray to the Holy Spirit for the gifts of Joy and Happiness. 

There are 3 steps to effectively evangelize. 

First step, like Mary we must hear the angel say to us, “Rejoice.” Before we can give joy we must first receive joy.                                 

Second step, after we have received the joy of the Lord, we must give that joy to others. Elizabeth says, “For at the moment the sound of your greeting reached my ears, the infant in my womb leaped for joy.”(LK 1:42)

Third step, the Holy Spirit makes our joy complete, “Our Christian joy drinks of the wellspring of his brimming heart. He promises his disciples: ‘You will be sorrowful, but your sorrow will turn to joy.’ (JN 16:20) He then goes on to say: ‘But I will see you again and your hearts will rejoice, and no one will take your joy from you'”(JN 16:22)

 

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