March 11March 11 Editorial: Reasons for being joyful (April 5, 2024)

April 5, 2024


Reasons for being joyful

This is the season of Easter joy. It is the time of year when Christians pay special attention to the heartfelt joy that is an integral part of life in Christ.

Pope Benedict XVI once wrote that during the baroque period, the Church’s liturgy used to include “the risus paschalis, the Easter laughter.”

According to Pope Benedict, in those days “the Easter homily had to contain a story which made people laugh, so that the Church resounded with joyful laughter. That may be a somewhat superficial form of Christian joy. But is there not something very beautiful and appropriate about laughter becoming a liturgical symbol?”

The Church’s liturgy should always be reverent, but it does not need to be somber or bleak. Humor has its rightful place in the liturgy and in our Christian lives. Laughter is a beautiful and appropriate liturgical symbol when it expresses the joy that we are called to feel as people who have been redeemed in Christ.

The 20th-century Christian philosopher Josef Pieper wrote that joy is an emotion that must be supported by some cause—a reason to be joyful. Joy does not exist in isolation from the concrete experiences of life. It springs from some external factor or reason.

Here are some reasons why we Christians should be joyful this Easter season:

—Life. The gift of life has been given to us by God so that we can share in his divine life and participate in the work of creation. Life is threatened today by so many things that we dare not take it for granted!

—Freedom. The death and resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ has liberated us from the slavery of sin and death. Too many people today do not experience the freedom that is theirs by the grace of God.

—Mission. We have been baptized and given a special share in the ministry of Jesus as disciples sent to proclaim the Gospel and transform the world. We are all co-responsible leaders and missionary disciples in Christ’s Church.

—Grace. We are not powerless. The Holy Spirit has strengthened us with his grace. He is the power through which Christ causes us to experience his closeness.

—Communion. We are not alone. The Lord has gathered us into his Church and has invited us to intimate communion with him through frequent reception of his body and blood in the Eucharist. We have family, friends and co-workers who know, love and respect us as individuals and as members of the family of God.

—Laughter. We are free to laugh, to sing and to enjoy the boundless beauty of God’s creation. The Book of Revelation’s vision of heaven expresses what we see by faith at Easter: The Lamb who was slain lives. Since he lives, our weeping comes to an end and is transformed into laughter.

—Participation. We are not spectators in the life of our Church. We are invited to “full, conscious and active participation” in the liturgy and sacraments of our Church and in the ministries of our parish, archdiocese and the Church universal. We have the opportunity to participate actively in the community life of our neighborhoods, our cities, our nation and our world without suffering from oppression or fear because we know that we are free people.

—Love. We are loved immeasurably. “Neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor rulers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Rom 8:35-39).

We can rejoice now that Lent is over, and we have entered into the Easter season. Each of us can identify our own reasons to be joyful.

We know we can all develop long lists of reasons to be sad and depressed. And as if that’s not enough, all we have to do is turn on the television, read a newspaper or log on to the internet to find plenty of reasons to be miserable.

The truth is that Christ has overcome the powers of death and darkness. He is risen! He has set us free. And he has given us powerful reasons to be joyful and filled with hope.

Let us rejoice and be glad this Easter season. Let us thank God for the gifts he has given us and for the many reasons we have to be joyful—at Easter time and always!

—Daniel Conway

Local site Links: