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October 31, 2014
Christian joy is based in hope, Pope Francis reflects
Pope Francis greets pilgrims during his general audience on May 14, 2014 Credit: Daniel Ibanez/CNA
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.- In his first daily homily since returning from the Holy Land Pope Francis centered on the theme of Christian joy, explaining that it comes not from our immediate circumstances, but what Jesus promised.

“Be courageous in suffering and remember that after the Lord will come; after joy will come, after the dark comes the sun” the Pope encouraged in his May 30 daily Mass. “May the Lord give us all this joy in hope.”

Basing his homily on the first reading, taken from the Acts of the Apostles in which the Lord tells St Paul not to be afraid of preaching to the people of Corinth, the pontiff explained to those in the Vatican’s Saint Martha guesthouse that the apostle “was very brave, because he had strength in the Lord.”

But despite this confidence even Paul was afraid at times and needed reassurance from God, the Pope observed, stating that “It happens to all of us in life, to have some ‘fear.’”

However, Paul didn’t let the fact that “neither the Jews nor the Gentiles” liked what he was saying stop him from proclaiming the Gospel, he continued, adding that even Jesus in Gethsemane was afraid.

“We must tell the truth: Christian life not just one big party. Not at all! We cry, we cry so many times,” the Roman Pontiff continued, “When we are sick; when we have a problem with our son, in the family, with our daughter or wife, or husband.”

“When we see that our salary does not reach the end of the month and we have a sick child; when we see that we cannot pay the mortgage on the house and we must somehow survive” he went on, adding that although we have “So many problems” Jesus tells us “Do not be afraid!”

Noting that there is another type of sadness that comes “when we take the wrong road” and try “to buy (the) happiness, joy, of the world, of sin,” Pope Francis explained that this “is the sadness of the wrong sort of happiness” but that Christian happiness “is a joy in hope, which comes.”

“However in times of trial we do not see this. It is a joy that is purified by trials, our everyday trials” the Pope continued, observing that “it's hard to go to a sick person who is suffering greatly and say: ‘Come on! Come on! Tomorrow you will have joy!’”

“No, you cannot say this! We have to help them feel what Jesus made us feel.”

Going on, he explained that “When we are in the dark” and “we do not see anything” we need to make an act of faith in the Lord, saying “I know, Lord that this sorrow will turn to joy. I do not know how, but I know it!”

Using the example of a woman in labor to illustrate how sadness turns into joy, the Bishop of Rome stated that “It’s true, women suffer a lot in childbirth, but then when she holds her child she forgets” and what is left is “the joy of Jesus, a purified joy.”

It is “the joy that remains” he observed, noting that although “hidden in some moments of life, we do not feel it in bad times, it comes later: a joy in hope.”

This, then, “is the message of the Church today: Do not be afraid!”

Concluding his reflections, the Pope prayed that all might receive “this joy in hope,” explaining that “the sign that we have this joy in hope is peace.”

“How many sick, who are at the end of life, in pain, have that peace of soul” he noted, affirming that “This is the seed of joy, this is the joy of hope and peace.”

“Do you have peace of soul in times of darkness, in times of trouble, in times of persecution, when everyone else rejoices at your suffering? Do you have peace?” he asked. “If you have peace, you have the seed of joy that will come later. May the Lord help us understand these things.”