Sunday, August 12, 2012

Saying 'Yes!' to Joy

"Someone could ask whether it is right to be so happy when the world is so full of suffering, when there exists so much darkness and evil. Is it right to be so high spirited and joyful? The answer can only be 'yes!' Because saying 'no' to joy we do nothing of use to anyone. We only make the world darker." (Pope Benedict XVI, press release, August 7, 2012)
To be sure, Benedict is speaking of joy and happiness in the midst of suffering external to the one who is joyful and happy. Yet, being all members of the one Body of Christ, when one suffers, we all suffer, and when one is joyful, one is joyful in the midst of suffering. In this world, suffering is the standard, and joy is the exception. Suffering is without effort, present in the space of joy, while it requires some doing to be joyful in the space of suffering.
Yet our Lord encompasses these two entities that are generally seen as opposed, within His divine and human person. Therein lays the answer to the riddle. It is the grace of His divinity from which joy is radiated in His embrace of the cross that will bring His flesh immense suffering. And when someone who is suffering radiates joy, is that not the ultimate triumph of good over evil? It is a clear manifestation of the divine present in the human being which emerges as joy in the midst of suffering. It is a clear manifestation of the presence of God in the human when joy is possible in the midst of suffering.
And so, when we say ‘yes’ to joy in a holy way, that is, permitting Him to occupy us while we suffer on this earth, to suffer in us and with us, we exert the effort of deliberately making a place for Him within ourselves, choosing life over death, happiness over despair, good over evil.

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