Pope Francis: A Church Without Joy Is Unimaginable
The Church’s mission is to transmit this message, which brings authentic peace, the Holy Father said in his Dec. 3 homily.
VATICAN CITY — Pope Francis focused his homily Dec. 3 on the themes of joy and peace, emphasizing that our God “is joyful” and that the Church’s mission of transmitting this joy to others brings authentic peace.
“You can’t imagine a Church without joy,” the Holy Father explained, “and the joy of the Church lies precisely in this: to proclaim the name of Jesus.”
Pope Francis directed his homily to those gathered in the Vatican’s St. Martha guest house, where he has chosen to reside.
He began by reflecting on the day’s first reading taken from the prophet Isaiah, which describes how, in the coming of the Messiah, “the lion and the sheep shall abide together.”
This passage, observed the Pope, speaks to us of the peace that we all long for and which only the Messiah can bring, while in the Gospel, when Jesus praises his Father for what he has revealed, “we are able to see a little into the soul of Jesus, the heart of Jesus,” which is “a joyful heart.”
“We always think of Jesus when he preaches, when he heals, when he travels, walks along the street, even during the Last Supper,” the Pope reflected, “but we aren’t used to thinking about Jesus smiling, joyful.”
“Jesus was full of joy, full of joy,” explained Francis, quoting Jesus’ words from Luke’s Gospel when, from the intimacy with his Father, the Lord proclaims, “I rejoiced in the Holy Spirit, and I praised the Father.”
This “is precisely the internal mystery of Jesus,” stated the Pope, “that relationship with the Father in the Spirit. It is his internal joy, the interior joy that he gives to us.”
“And this joy,” he explained, “is true peace,” which is not static, quiet or tranquil.
“Christian peace is a joyful peace, because our Lord is joyful,” the Pope continued, and because of this, Christ wills that his spouse, the Church, share in this joy, which we only find when proclaiming “the name of Jesus.”
“To say: ‘He is the Lord. My spouse is the Lord. He is God. He saves us. He walks with us.’ And that is the joy of the Church.”
Quoting his predecessor Pope Paul VI, the Holy Father stated that “the joy of the Church is precisely to evangelize, to go forth and to speak about her Spouse. And also to transmit that joy to the children that she bears, that she raises.”
Returning to the first reading taken from Isaiah, Pope Francis urged those present to reflect on how the peace of which the prophet speaks “is a peace that is so moving, it is a peace of joy, a peace of praise,” which we can also say is “noisy, in praise, a peace that bears fruit in becoming a mother of new children.”
This peace “comes precisely in the joy of praise for the Trinity and of evangelization, of going to the people to tell them who Jesus is,” noted the Pope, drawing attention to Jesus’ “dogmatic declaration” in the Gospel when he affirms to his Father that “you decided to reveal yourself not to the wise, but to the little ones.”
Pope Francis concluded his homily by observing that, “even in so many serious things, such as this, Jesus is joyful; the Church is joyful.”
“She must be joyful,” he emphasized, “even in her widowhood — because the Church has something of the widow who waits for her spouse to come back,” but “even in her widowhood, the Church is joyful in hope.”
“The Lord gives this joy to all of us,” the Pope explained, highlighting how “this joy of Jesus, praising the Father in the Spirit [is] this joy of our mother Church in evangelizing, in announcing her Spouse.”