Jesus sent out his Apostles to minister in his name and share the Gospel as he did, declaring that the “Kingdom of heaven is at hand.” Our faith tradition is one of evangelizing, sharing the Good News. That means that first and foremost we need to be people of joy. We may share the most wonderful words about our faith, but if they are not backed up by a life of radiating joy, then our words will have little if any impact.
This does not mean that we are happy and buoyant every second of the day, it does not mean that we will not experience hardship, sorrow, and loss. What it does mean is that we are not defined by our suffering but by our hope as we experience each of our adversities, conflicts, and challenges.
What defines us is the joy of knowing that we are not alone in our trials and that we are loved by God more than we can ever imagine. Jesus experienced the darkness of the human condition all the way into the deepest depths of God forsakenness. He did not just suffer on the cross but he went all the way to experience death. Yet, through the binding force of the love of the Holy Spirit, he was drawn back to life and conquered death not only for himself but for us all.
This is good news to share. How we live our lives each day and interact with others may be the only Bible that someone else will ever read. “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.” – Pope Francis from his apostolic exhortation, Joy of the Gospel, line 6.