It is hard not notice that we sometimes talk about joy only when it is convenient to. At obvious reasons to be happy: That someone is getting married. That a child is born. But how the heck to be joyful when injustice engulfs and pain is palpable? In an Angelus message during a visit to Australia in 1986, Blessed John Paul II helps:
We do not pretend that life is all beauty. We are aware of darkness and sin, of poverty and pain. But we know Jesus has conquered sin and passed through his own pain to the glory of the Resurrection. And we live in the light of his Paschal Mystery — the mystery of his Death and Resurrection. “We are an Easter People and Alleluia is our song!” We are not looking for a shallow joy but rather a joy that comes from faith, that grows through unselfish love, that respects the “fundamental duty of love of neighbor, without which it would be unbecoming to speak of joy.” We realize that joy is demanding — it demands unselfishness; it demands a readiness to say with Mary: “May it be done to me according to your word.”
In that fiat is the desire for and trust in the source of eternal joy. And isn’t it because of the stark pain of our Lord offering His life for us on Good Friday that we more fully understand and celebrate Easter as the miracle it is?
Sometimes I sense we don’t even feel joy at weddings anymore. And doesn’t that have to do with the fact that we often don’t talk so much about the pain and struggles — the work of marriage — and we aren’t walking into the party with a commitment to that couple to be a support in making possible, that they stay a joyful people, that we walk with them as they get each other to heaven, open to all the life and love God has in store for them?
Maybe we can spread joy today by focusing on the mundane. Your sister who could use an afternoon’s break from her busy household. A husband who might be feeling neglected. A young person in need of a mentor. Visiting the sick. Feeding the hungry. Encouraging the dispirited.