The Path of Life

The Path of Life

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Holy Week rejoicing

Rejoice heartily, O daughter Zion,
shout for joy, O daughter Jerusalem!

See, your king shall come to you; a just savior is he,
Meek, and riding on an ass, on a colt, the foal of an ass.
Zechariah 9:9

Two weeks ago, for Laetare (or Rejoice) Sunday, we took a mid-season pause amid our Lenten observances to recall that Christ not only died for our sins, but rose from the dead, ascended to the Father in heaven, and sent the Holy Spirit to assist us in following him. Though we are saddened by our sins which crucified Christ, and reflecting on them, we resolve by God’s grace to increase in virtue, we are abundantly joyful because we are a Resurrection people. In Christ, the redeeming victory of salvation has already been gained for all those who believe and follow him in faith.

For this reason, we herald the Savior's humble arrival into our hearts on Palm Sunday. As the Gospel proclaimed before the procession of palms at Mass today (Mark 11:1-10) fufills Zechariah's prophecy (Zechariah 9:9), we join our voices in proclaiming: "Hosanna!" The Gospel of Jesus Christ is Good News, and proclaiming it with joy by how we live our lives—even in the midst of life’s undeniable and inevitable trials—is the absolute best witness any Christian can provide. So, as we enter this most Holy Week of the year, we do well, as St. Benedict says in his Rule for monks, to “look forward to holy Easter with joy and spiritual longing.”

On this note, Pope Benedict XVI, who took the monastic founder’s name, offers far more eloquent and substantial words of wisdom in his annual message for World Youth Day, celebrated on Palm Sunday. "God wants us to be happy," he says, in the truest sense of the word. Although addressed to young people, his remarks have relevance for all the children of God. An excerpt appears below, but you may read the entire address by clicking here.


In a world of sorrow and anxiety, joy is an important witness to the beauty and reliability of the Christian faith…. The Church’s vocation is to bring joy to the world, a joy that is authentic and enduring, the joy proclaimed by the angels to the shepherds on the night Jesus was born (cf. Lk 2:10). Not only did God speak, not only did he accomplish great signs throughout the history of humankind, but he drew so near to us that he became one of us and lived our life completely….

A yearning for joy lurks within the heart of every man and woman. Far more than immediate and fleeting feelings of satisfaction, our hearts seek a perfect, full and lasting joy capable of giving “flavor” to our existence. Whatever brings us true joy, whether the small joys of each day or the greatest joys in life, has its source in God, even if this does not seem immediately obvious. This is because God is a communion of eternal love; he is infinite joy that does not remain closed in on itself, but expands to embrace all whom God loves and who love him.

God created us in his image out of love, in order to shower his love upon us and to fill us with his presence and grace. God wants us to share in his own divine and eternal joy, and he helps us to see that the deepest meaning and value of our lives lie in being accepted, welcomed and loved by him….

The cause of all this joy is the closeness of God who became one of us. This is what Saint Paul means when he writes to the Philippians: “Rejoice in the Lord always. I shall say it again: rejoice! Your kindness should be known to all. The Lord is near” (Phil 4:4-5). Our first reason for joy is the closeness of the Lord, who welcomes me and loves me….

To have lasting joy we need to live in love and truth. We need to live in God. God wants us to be happy. That is why he gave us specific directions for the journey of life: the commandments. If we observe them, we will find the path to life and happiness…I would encourage you to be missionaries of joy. We cannot be happy if others are not. Joy has to be shared. Go and tell other young people about your joy at finding the precious treasure which is Jesus himself. We cannot keep the joy of faith to ourselves. If we are to keep it, we must give it away….

The Gospel is the “good news” that God loves us and that each of us is important to him. Show the world that this is true!

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