Joy is the certainty of being loved
Reflection on Readings at Mass for the Fourth Sunday of Easter (Year C): Acts 13:14, 43–52; Psalm 100:1-3, 5; Revelation 7:9, 14–17; St John 10:27–30.
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.Francis, Bishop of Rome, Joy of the Gospel.
The reading from the Acts of the Apostles today, tells us that the Apostles were filled with joy. Joy is the hallmark of Christianity. Joy is the gift of Eastertide: 50 days of celebration. Fifty days to allow the joy of Christ’s Resurrection to truly sink in.
We all have moments of suffering, sometimes they seem to last for more than fifty days. Joy, however, is possible in every situation. Joy comes from the certainty that we are infinitely loved.
Our Lord Jesus Christ tells us that in the Gospel today. He says,
My sheep hear my voice. I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they will never perish.St John 10:27–28 NRSVACE
Then, in one of the most wonderful lines in the whole of Scripture, He says,
No one will snatch them out of my hand. What my Father has given me is greater than all else, and no one can snatch it out of the Father’s hand. The Father and I are one.St John 10:27–30 NRSVACE
Joy is the certainty of being loved. We are loved by God Himself, Whose Love cannot change, Whose Love cannot let us down. Ever.
Our Lord does not promise an easy life. He does not say, “You will never have problems.”
Our Lord does not promise us success as we understand success. He promises that no one can snatch us out of his hand. He is God. He is one with the Father, in Him we are safe. In Him we are loved. This is the great lesson for today. Joy is the certainty of being infinitely loved by God.
The ultimate proof of God’s Love
We see around us the news of many children in our towns and villages making their first communion at this time. It was the same over a hundred years ago in northern France when a little girl made her first communion.
She had prepared for it, looked forward to it with excitement, and the day finally came. That little girl described the first time that she received our Lord in the Eucharist,
I felt that I was loved, and I said to Jesus, “I love you and I give myself to you for ever…” It was a fusion: Jesus and I were no longer two, I had vanished in him as a drop of water vanishes in the ocean. Jesus alone remained.
She ended her description of her first communion by recalling the joy she felt that day, the same joy she experienced every time she received Christ in the Eucharist.
Today, that little girl is one of the most famous saints in the Roman Catholic Church, St Thérèse of Lisieux. She illustrates that joy frlows from the certainty of being infinitely loved by God. E
Every time that we receive the Eucharist, we receive a living reminder of God’s Love for us. We too can say,
I know that I am loved. I know that certainty brings a joy that nothing can take away, because I am safe in the hands of Jesus.
The greatest gift
Imagine if we could hae a daily meeting with Queen Elizabeth II or with Tom Daley. We would probably consider it a tremendous gift. It would be. However, there is an even greater gift: the chance to receive God each day in the Eucharist.
The Curé d’Ars used to say that if we want to be saints, we need to receive communion often. Our Lord Jesus Christ left us this gift as his real presence. When we receive communion we receive God himself. We are united to Him in a way that surpasses anything else.
So, during the rest of Eastertide, why do we not consider attending daily Mass, where possible? If that is not possible then make sure we do attend the Eucharist each Sunday.
Joy comes from the certainty that when everything is said and done, we are infinitely loved by God. The Eucharist makes that Love present, here and now. We can see it. We can touch it.
As we receive Christ in the Eucharist today, let us all thank Him for His amazing Love for us. Let us ask Him to help us to love Him more and more each day.