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REMAINING IN THE HAPPINESS OF CHRIST
Fr. Steven Scherrer, MM, ThD
Homily of Friday, 6th Week of Easter, May 18, 2012
Acts 18:9-18, Ps. 46, John 16:20-23


"I will see you again and your hearts will rejoice, and no one will take your joy from you" (John 16:22).


This is a great promise! Christ promises us that when he has risen from the dead, we will see him again, and our heart will rejoice, and no one will take this joy from us. After his resurrection "the disciples were glad when they saw the Lord" (John 20:20). After the ascension they were also filled with joy. "He parted from them and was carried up into heaven. And they worshiped him, and returned to Jerusalem with great joy" (Luke 24:51-52).


We also read this message of Christian joy in the writings of St. Paul. "Rejoice always," he says (1 Thes. 5:16). And "Finally, my brethren, rejoice in the Lord" (Phil 3:1). Then there is the beautiful passage that we read during advent: "Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, Rejoice. Let all men know your forbearance. The Lord is at hand. Have no anxiety about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which passes all understanding, will keep your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus" (Phil. 4:4-7).


Christ puts happiness into our heart. It is the happiness of knowing that through him we are united to God in love, and that all our sins are forgiven, that God loves us, and because of the sacrifice of Christ he is happy with us and justifies us, making us resplendent in his sight. This happiness is God's peace in our heart, for Christ gives us this interior peace. "Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you" (John 14:27).


In fact, Christ shines in our heart when we believe in him. "For it is the God who said, ‘Let light shine out of darkness,' who has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ" (2 Cor. 4:6). Only unbelievers do not see this interior light of Christ, for "the god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelievers, to keep them from seeing the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the likeness of God" (2 Cor. 4:4). And Christ tells us that if we follow him, that is, obey him, we will have his light within us. "I am the light of the world; he who follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life" (John 8:12).


If only we could avoid sin, we would remain in this light, joy, peace, and love of God. "Abide in my love," Jesus says (John 15:9). Then he explains: "If you keep my commandments, you will abide in my love" (John 15:10). Sin, even small sins, diminishes this love, joy, light, and peace in us. Hence the importance of avoiding all sin. When we do sin and lose these luminous gifts, we should always repent, especially in the sacrament of penance, and take refuge in the wounds of Christ, which he suffered for our sins to propitiate and expiate them before the Father, suffering their punishment for us, instead of us, to restore us to his joy, love, light, and peace.


Thus, united in the love and joy of the risen Christ, the apostles, even when they were beaten for their faith and preaching of Christ, rejoiced in their spirit. "Then they left the presence of the council, rejoicing that they were counted worthy to suffer dishonor for the name" (Acts 5:41). Christ's great promise is that if we follow in their footsteps, keeping faith and avoiding sin, it will be the same for us.

 

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