Week One: The Joy of the Gospel

January 1

“The joy of the gospel fills the hearts and lives of all who encounter Jesus. Those who accept his offer of salvation are set free from sin, sorrow, inner emptiness and loneliness. With Christ joy is constantly born anew. In this Exhortation I wish to encourage the Christian faithful to embark upon a new chapter of evangelization marked by this joy, while pointing out new paths for the Church’s journey in years to come” (no. 1).

 

  • As members of the great chorus of faith, do our lives sing, “Joy to the World?” Like the star of Bethlehem, does a light shine from within us to lead others to Christ? Are we filled with the genuine joy of a life in Christ?
  • Enjoy Bach’s Jesu, Joy of Man’s Desiring, sung by Celtic Women:

 

January 2

“The great danger in today’s world, pervaded as it is by consumerism, is the desolation and anguish born of a complacent yet covetous heart, the feverish pursuit of frivolous pleasures, and a blunted conscience. Whenever our interior life becomes caught up in its own interests and concerns, there is no longer room for others, no place for the poor. God’s voice is no longer heard, the quiet joy of his love is no longer felt, and the desire to do good fades. This is a very real danger for believers too. Many fall prey to it, and end up resentful, angry and listless. That is no way to live a dignified and fulfilled life; it is not God’s will for us, nor is it the life in the Spirit which has its source in the heart of the risen Christ” (no. 2).

 

  • How has consumerism stolen your joy at Christmas or during ordinary days?
  • http://www.cbsnews.com/news/pope-laments-christmas-consumerism/

January 3

“The Gospel, radiant with the glory of Christ’s cross, constantly invites us to rejoice. … His message brings us joy: ‘I have said these things to you, so that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be complete’ (Jn 15:11). … Wherever the disciples went, ‘there was great joy’ (8:8); even amid persecution they continued to be ‘filled with joy’ (13:52). Why should we not also enter into this great stream of joy” (no. 5)?

  • What is one way you can enter more fully into the “great stream of joy” today?
  • “Joy is the infallible sign of the presence of God.”  ― Pierre Teilhard de Chardin

January 4

“There are Christians whose lives seem like Lent without Easter. I realize of course that joy is not expressed the same way at all times in life, especially at moments of great difficulty. Joy adapts and changes, but it always endures, even as a flicker of light born of our personal certainty that, when everything is said and done, we are infinitely loved. I understand the grief of people who have to endure great suffering, yet slowly but surely we all have to let the joy of faith slowly revive as a quiet yet firm trust, even amid the greatest distress; …” (no. 6).

  • When have you witnessed profound joy in the midst of deep suffering?
  • “Everywhere a greater joy is preceded by a greater suffering.” St. Augustine

January 5

“I can say that the most beautiful and natural expressions of joy which I have seen in my life were in poor people who had little to hold on to. I also think of the real joy shown by others who, even amid pressing professional obligations, were able to preserve, in detachment and simplicity, a heart full of faith. In their own way, all these instances of joy flow from the infinite love of God, who has revealed himself to us in Jesus Christ” (no. 7).

 

January 6

“The Gospel offers us the chance to live life on a higher plane, but with no less intensity: ‘Life grows by being given away, and it weakens in isolation and comfort. Indeed, those who enjoy life most are those who leave security on the shore and become excited by the mission of communicating life to others’. When the Church summons Christians to take up the task of evangelization, she is simply pointing to the source of authentic personal fulfillment. … Consequently, an evangelizer must never look like someone who has just come back from a funeral! Let us recover and deepen our enthusiasm, that ‘delightful and comforting joy of evangelizing, even when it is in tears that we must sow…’” (No. 10).

January 7

“Or as Saint Irenaeus writes: ‘By his coming, Christ brought with him all newness.’ With this newness he is always able to renew our lives and our communities, and even if the Christian message has known periods of darkness and ecclesial weakness, it will never grow old. Jesus can also break through the dull categories with which we would enclose him and he constantly amazes us by his divine creativity. Whenever we make the effort to return to the source and to recover the original freshness of the Gospel, new avenues arise, new paths of creativity open up, with different forms of expression, more eloquent signs and words with new meaning for today’s world. Every form of authentic evangelization is always ‘new’” (no. 11).

  • How have we, as a people of God, “enclosed” Christ?
  • In your opinion, what are some of the most exciting “voices” of the New Evangelization?