Jesus said very clearly that he wants you to be filled with joy!
Unfortunately, sometimes the Christian faith is seen as a bunch of rules that tell you what not to do. This paints Christianity in a negative light, making it appear that to be a Christian, one must constantly deny themselves what they want and forever be a gloomy person.
However, Jesus never wanted his followers to be pessimistic, approaching the world in a negative manner. In fact, he wanted his followers to experience joy.
As the Father loves me, so I also love you. Remain in my love. If you keep my commandments, you will remain in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commandments and remain in his love. I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and your joy may be complete. This is my commandment: love one another as I love you. (John 15:9-11)
The Gospel is meant to be Good News, though we don’t always experience it in that way. Suffering and self-denial is certainly part of the Gospel, but those things are meant to lead us into a deeper joy that is beyond this world.
Pope Francis even wrote an entire apostolic exhortation entitled The Joy of the Gospel, in which he explained that joy was linked to living out an authentic Christian life.
The Gospel, radiant with the glory of Christ’s cross, constantly invites us to rejoice. A few examples will suffice. “Rejoice!” is the angel’s greeting to Mary (Lk 1:28). Mary’s visit to Elizabeth makes John leap for joy in his mother’s womb (cf. Lk 1:41). In her song of praise, Mary proclaims: “My spirit rejoices in God my Savior” (Lk 1:47). When Jesus begins his ministry, John cries out: “For this reason, my joy has been fulfilled” (Jn 3:29). Jesus himself “rejoiced in the Holy Spirit” (Lk 10:21). 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). Our Christian joy drinks of the wellspring of his brimming heart.
We don’t always focus on our own joy and how, even in the midst of great suffering, we can possess the peace and joy of God’s love. Jesus on the cross was the most joyful person in the world!
Our joy doesn’t always need to be reflected in a bubbly attitude that can seem superficial, but it should be at the root of our faith, knowing that this joy foreshadows the joy that will come.
Pope Francis also commented in his exhortation that our modern world often robs us of our joy.
Sometimes we are tempted to find excuses and complain, acting as if we could only be happy if a thousand conditions were met. To some extent this is because our “technological society has succeeded in multiplying occasions of pleasure, yet has found it very difficult to engender joy.” 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.
Let us never lose our joy, as others will be drawn closer to the Gospel through the joyful living of our faith.