Au In the beginning was the Word

1. Faith experience involves joy, peace and happiness. It affects the inner sense of life. At the same time, we can recognise Christ’s presence in that peace that the world cannot give, a kind of joy that nobody can take away from us. He who never experiences that peace and that joy, can ask himself if he really has an experience of faith.

2. In the Bible, the joy that awaits those who listen to the word of God is expressed concretely: "May you be blessed in the city and blessed in the country, blessed be the fruit of your womb, the produce of your soil and the offspring of your livestock, the issue of your herds, and the young of your flocks, blessed be your grain bin and your kneading bowl" (Dt 28, 3-5).

3. This concrete sense of joy supposes that at least a minimum of material goods is necessary to acquire it. In this perspective we find the prayer of the wise man who anticipates the petition of Our Father: "Give me neither poverty nor riches; provide me only with the food need"(Prv 30, 8).

4. A minimum of goods is necessary, but is not enough to reach joy. Man, left to himself, cannot control his own heart or the sources of his happiness, his peace. Man can not be as God, leaving aside God (Gn 3, 5). On the contrary, as St. Augusthine says, he needs God, " You make us for you, Lord and unsettled is our heart until it rests upon You" (Confessions 1, 1, 1).

5. In the Psalms one sings of the joy of the living knowledge of God: "Many say: Who will show us better times? Lord, show us the light of your face! But you have given my heart more joy than they have where grain and wine abound" (Ps 4, 7-8). And also, "I will rejoice in the Lord" (Ps 104, 34) to God my joy (Ps 43, 4).

6. The joy of the living knowledge of God is focussed on the Good News of Jesus. Jesus announces the arrival of the Kingdom of God in the middle of congratulations, of beatitudes, "Blessed, blessed, blessed..." (Mt 5, 3-12). It is the joy of the one who now enters into the Kingdom of God (Lk 19, 9) or works in it (Lk 10, 17), joy that is the opposite of the sadness of the rich young man (Mt 19, 22). It is the joy that Jesus feels with the children coming to Him (Mk 10, 16), with the honour to the Word (Mt 8, 10), the forgiveness of the sinner (Lk 7, 47) or the tax collector (18, 14), the generosity of the widow (Lk 21, 4), the revelation of the Kingdom of God to the little ones (Mt 11, 15), to bring glad tidings to the poor, recovery of sight to the blind, to let the oppressed go free (Lk 4, 18).

7. The joy of the disciple because he has found the hidden treasure is overwhelming. It is such that other things remain subordinated to that discovery:

"The Kingdom of heaven is like a treasure buried in a field, which a person finds and hides again, and out of joy goes and sells all that he has and buys the field" (Mt 13, 44). In each of these deeds (go, find, come back, buy) we can recognise several moments of our own life.

8. The joy of the disciple lies beneath all the decisions and even all renunciations. It springs forth also in the middle of insults and persecutions, "Blessed are you when they insult you and persecute you and utter every kind of evil against you because of me. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward will be great in heaven. Thus they persecuted the prophets who were before you". (Mt 5, 11-12; to see Acts 5, 41).

9. The happiness of the disciple overwhelms when he discover the strength of the Kingdom of God in action, the power of the Good News that announces, "Lord, even the demons are subject to us because of your name"(Lk 10, 17). Jesus told them to be happy for a greater reason, because their names are written in heaven (10, 20).

10. Jesus is happy that the Good News is revealed to those who you would think would not understand, the average people, "I give you thanks, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because you have hidden those things to the intelligent and the wise and you have revealed them to ordinary people" (10, 21). And turning to the disciples in private he said, "Blessed are the eyes that see what you see! For I say to you, many prophets and kings desired to see what you see, but did not see it, and to hear what you hear, but did not hear it".(10, 23-24).

11. The joy of the Gospel brings forth the change produced by conversion. It is the joy of the shepherd that finds the lost sheep (Lk 15, 4-7), or the woman that finds the lost coin (15, 8-10), or the father that celebrates the returning of the lost son (15, 11-32). This joy is the same in heaven, "I tell you, in just the same way there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous people who have no need of repentance" (15, 7).

12. Joy of the disciple comes forth also in the face of persecution and the cross. It will even come forth after the death of Christ. It will be like childbirth. Then its sorrow will be changed to joy. They will have the incredible joy of the resurrection (Lk 24, 41), a joy that nobody will take away from you, "When a woman is in labour, she is in anguish because her hour has arrived; but when she has given birth to a child, she no longer remembers the pain because of her joy that a child has been born into the world. So you also are now in anguish, but I will see you again, and your hearts will rejoice and no one will take your joy away from you" (Jn 16, 20-22).

13. Those who believe in Jesus, have a complete joy (Jn 17, 13). Joy and peace are the same thing. Jesus gives a peace that the world cannot give. As his farewell in the Last Supper, Jesus said, "Peace I leave you; my peace I give you; not as the world gives it" (Jn 14, 27). Peace is one of the signs of the presence of Christ Resurrected, his personal greeting: Peace with you (Jn 20,19).

14. Joy and peace are fruits of the Spirit (Gal 5, 22) and something common to the Kingdom of God (Rom 14, 17). The first Christian community lived with a simple joy (Act 2, 46); the preaching of the Good News is everywhere a source of great joy (8, 8); baptism fills believers with a joy that comes from the Spirit (13, 62); they share with joy, so that no one is in need (2 Cor 9, 7).

15. After all, the most profound reason of our joy, the one that says it all, is what Andrew could not keep to himself and told his brother Simon Peter, "We have found Christ" (Jn 1, 41). And, what about us: "Have we found what we were looking for, the buried treasure in the field?"