Pope Francis: The identity card of the Christian is the joy of the Gospel

No Christian can exist without joy: that’s what Pope Francis said in his homily at Mass Monday morning in the chapel of the Santa Marta guesthouse. The pope stressed that even through life’s difficulties, the Christian knows he can trust in Jesus and find hope. The pope also reminded the faithful they should not allow riches to dominate their lives because they ultimately lead to sadness.

Christians live in joy and amazement because of the resurrection of Jesus Christ. Commenting on the First Letter of St. Peter, Francis pointed out that, even if we are plagued by trials, we can never lose the joy of knowing that God “regenerated us in Christ and gave us hope."

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The identity card of the Christian is the joy of the Gospel

He noted that we can go towards that “hope” which "the early Christians depicted as an anchor in heaven." We too, can “take the rope and go up there," to "that hope" that brings joy:

"A Christian is a man, or a woman, of joy: a man and a woman with joy in their heart. There is no Christian without joy! You may be told that there are many such Christians," the pope warned, but “they are not Christians! They say they are, but they are not! They are missing something.”

“The Christian identity card is joy, the Gospel’s joy, the joy of having been chosen by Jesus, saved by Jesus, regenerated by Jesus; the joy of that hope that Jesus is waiting for us, the joy that - even with the crosses and sufferings we bear in this life - is expressed in another way, which is peace in the certainty that Jesus accompanies us, is with us."

"The Christian,” he added, “grows in joy through trusting in God. God always remembers his covenant." And in turn, "the Christian knows that God remembers him, that God loves him, that God accompanies him, that God is waiting for him. And this is joy."

Turning to the day’s Gospel story regarding Jesus’ encounter with the wealthy man, the pope observed the young man “was not able to open his heart to joy [and] chose sadness," "for he had many possessions."

"He was shackled to his belongings! Jesus told us that one cannot serve two masters: either one must serve God or serve riches. Riches are not bad in themselves, but slavery to wealth – this, is wickedness. The poor young man went away sad ... 'He frowned and he went away sorrowful'. When in our parishes, in our communities, in our institutions we find people who say they are Christians and want to be Christian but are sad, something is wrong there. And we must help them to find Jesus, to take away that sadness, so that they may rejoice in the gospel, can have this joy which is truly of the Gospel. "

"Joy and amazement:" that’s what the Christian feels when faced with God’s revelation and love, and “the emotions stirred by the Holy Spirit,” Pope Francis added. And here,  the pope recalled Jesus’s disappointment when he told the Apostles that the young man could not follow him, because he was too attached to his riches. And when the Apostles asked the Lord, ‘who then, can be saved?’ The Lord answered, "Impossible for men, but not for God."

Christian joy, then, and the ability to “be saved from worldly attachments” can “only come through the power of God, with the strength of the Holy Spirit."

Concluding, Pope Francis prayed that the Lord “graces us with amazement in his presence, in the presence of the many spiritual treasures he has given us; and with this amazement, may he give us joy, the joy of our lives - and of having our hearts at peace even when faced with many difficulties. And may he protect us from seeking happiness in so many things that ultimately sadden us: they promise much, but they will not give us anything! Remember well: a Christian is a man, and a woman, of joy, joy in the Lord; a man and a woman of wonder ."

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