Happy feast of Pentecost as the Easter season comes to a close. As we know, in the cycle of our worship, the weeks we now move into beyond the Easter season are named ‘Ordinary Time’. We are called as a Christian people to live the assurance of - Jesus risen - in all the ordinary circumstances of our lives. In Australia 33 years ago, Pope – now called ‘Saint’ – John Paul II, talked of Easter being the norm of Christian life, even in all that’s ordinary. And the sign of that, he suggested, is joy. Here’s a little of his message, given in Adelaide in 1986:
I have said before on another occasion: "In a true sense, joy is the keynote of the Christian message". As I said then, my wish is that the Christian message may bring joy to all who open their hearts to it: "joy to children, joy to parents, joy to families and to friends, joy to workers and scholars, joy to the sick and to the elderly, joy to all humanity". I now add: "joy - deep and lasting joy - to the people of Australia"…..
As he identified joy as this heart of the Good News that we are called to share with the world, John Paul II wasn’t saying that life is all roses all the time! Here’s a piece of that reality check:
We do not pretend that life is all beauty. We are aware of darkness and sin, of poverty and pain. But we know Jesus has conquered sin and passed through his own pain to the glory of the Resurrection. And we live in the light of his Paschal Mystery - the mystery of his Death and Resurrection. "We are an Easter People and Alleluia is our song!".
More recently Pope Francis re-emphasised this core joy of us as people called to be and share joy with the world; with the creation that God made and loves. And Francis likewise said that joy doesn’t mean that everyone’s laughing all the time! Like John Paul, Francis is a realist. He speaks frequently of the remaining injustice in the world that’s needing our human response. But he identifies joy with the quality exuded by people who know that Christ is risen and connected with all of creation. Francis encourages us that:
"Every baptised person is called to transmit the divine gifts of peace and joy, thus continuing Jesus’ saving mission in the world, each according to his or her own vocation."
(Here’s something reflecting the peace and joy Pope Francis spoke of. In this case, a young Muslim woman who was assisted in difficulty by some Catholic people at Greystanes, gave them this picture. She said it was of herself, giving thanks at the statue of Mary at Greystanes Church, for the love of the people from there towards her)
Pope Francis said that quote (above the picture) about the call of baptised people just a few weeks back as he addressed pilgrims in St Peter’s Square. He was speaking of the mission of God in which we all share. May Pentecost this year be an encouragement in our place in that mission. May it be a real reassurance for us of God’s love for us and desire to fill us with presence and grace – with God’s very Spirit in us. May Pentecost spur us on to say our next YES to being God’s joy for many in the mission of remarkable Good News!
With friendship in God’s mission,
Originally featured in paulfromifm.org.au in June 2019