Pathways through Lent

A Different Kind of Joy

Psalm 78:1–72 Genesis 45:1–15 1 Corinthians 7:32–40 Mark 6:1–13

In Lent, a season of sober reflection, we do not face the happy bustle of Christmas, nor the triumphant release of Easter, nor the in-rushing energy of Pentecost. Lent is a season of awful and awesome anticipation, testing our understanding of Christian joy.

What is Christian joy, that special state of confidence that let the young Saint Stephen face hate, violence, and death, praying for forgiveness for those stoning him? That steadied the young Joan of Arc, praying for forgiveness for her judges, affirming her vision and voices, and crying out, as the flames and searing heat engulfed her, “Jesus, Jesus!” That, in 2006 in nearby Pennsylvania, filled the young Amish farmers with forgiveness for the man who had held their children at gunpoint and then killed them—such forgiveness that, instead of vengeance, the Amish families sought out his family to offer help. “The fruit of the Spirit,” Paul wrote, “is love, joy, peace…” Do you know this joy?

Pope Paul VI wrote that “this joy of living in God’s love begins here below. It is the joy of the kingdom of God. But it is granted on a steep road which requires a total confidence in the Father and in the Son, and [in] the kingdom. The message of Jesus promises above all joy—this demanding joy…”

Jesus commanded us to love one another as He has loved us, and if we but will, we have His assurance “that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete.”

–Robert Park

St. Stephen
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1 thought on “A Different Kind of Joy”

  1. Thank you, Robert, for the challenge of re-thinking what we call Christian joy. I wouldn’t have used the term in the context of being stoned, burned alive or bereaved by violence.

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