“In the liturgy we relive the state of mind of the disciples over the news which the women had brought: Jesus is Risen! We have seen him! If only we were so luminous! But this is not just cosmetic! It comes from within, from a heart immersed in the source of this joy, like that of Mary Magdalene, who wept over the loss of her Lord and could hardly believe her eyes seeing him risen. Whoever experiences this becomes a witness of the Resurrection, for in a certain sense he himself has risen, she herself has risen. He or she is then capable of carrying a “ray” of light of the Risen One into various situations: to those that are happy, making them more beautiful by preserving them from egoism; to those that are painful, bringing serenity and hope.” —Pope Francis
One of Pope Francis’s favorite distinctions is the difference between joy and mere happiness. This is something that’s good to carry with us into the Easter season. His example of Mary Magdalene points to a key aspect of joy: It often follows a time of suffering, of disappointment, of struggle overcome and transformed. If Mary hadn’t cared so much for Jesus, her sense of loss wouldn’t have been as deep, but neither would her joy at their reunion. If we live our lives only on the surface, surrounding ourselves with acquaintances rather than real friends, we will find it difficult to experience deep emotions. Likewise, if our faith is only an intellectual exercise, a list of rules and doctrines instead of a personal encounter with the divine, we will miss the way it can truly change our hearts. One of the hallmarks of a true friend is someone who can accompany us through good times and bad, weeping and rejoicing as circumstances change. A genuine faith offers the same support. We are blessed if we have such friends, graced if we have such faith.
Pope Francis reminds us that when we recognize the blessings in our lives, we will have a joy that we can share with others in good times and bad. If someone has done this for you recently, take a moment to let them know. As you reflect on your own joy in this Easter season, find a way to share it with someone who needs a ray or two of Christ’s light in their lives.
— from the book The Hope of Lent: Daily Reflections from Pope Francis,
by Diane M. Houdek