Pope Francis greets women religious during his general audience in the Paul VI hall at the Vatican Jan. 11, 2023. CNS PHOTO/VATICAN MEDIA
Find your joy: An Easter challenge
BY DR. JEFF ANDRINI, OFFICE OF EVANGELIZATION AND DISCIPLESHIP
“I invite all Christians, everywhere, at this very moment, to a renewed personal encounter with Jesus Christ, or at least an openness to letting him encounter them; I ask all of you to do this unfailingly each day” (Pope Francis, The Joy of the Gospel, paragraph 3). Each day of this Easter season, make a 10-minute appointment for prayer and be available for Jesus to show up.
It is not an accident that Lent is 40 days, and the Easter Season is 50 days. We are an Easter people! The joy of the Resurrection is our birthright as Christians, and it grows in our lives by spending time with God daily. Joy is a fruit of the Spirit, which is manifest in our lives in correlation to union with God.
On a scale of 1 to 10, how much joy do you have in your daily life? It is easy to be overwhelmed by the polarization of our country and the reality of evil in our world. The stressors of our everyday lives are quite high. But “Easter people” remember that Jesus says “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened and I will give you rest. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light” (Matt. 11:28-30).
On a scale of 1 to 10, how would you rate your daily prayer life? When we carry our pain ourselves and allow the anxieties of life to choke our spiritual lives, we suffer. And we often look miserable too! Pope Francis says this, “An Evangelizer must never look like someone who has just come from a funeral” (The Joy of the Gospel, paragraph 10).
As we hear the book of Acts proclaimed this Easter season and marvel at how the Holy Spirit was moving in the early Church, the challenge is to commit to a daily prayer life and invite Jesus to be Lord of your life. Ask God to renew your joy. Pour out your struggles, pain and concern to God and receive the Holy Spirit.
“Dismiss all anxiety from your minds. Present your needs to God in every form of prayer and in petitions full of gratitude. Then God’s own peace, which is beyond all understanding, will guard over your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus” (Phil. 4:6-7).
Lest you think, “I am not an evangelizer, so this message is not for me,” you need to know that every Catholic is called to be an evangelizer. Many of us think that is not my role, I could never do that. True! On our own, none of us can share the fruits of the Spirit with others, but when we are authentically touched by Jesus, we cannot say, “I have my salvation, go get your own.” Rather, we want to share the goodness of God with everyone we meet. Reread the first sentence from Pope Francis and do it unfailingly each day!
Dr. Jeff Andrini is the director of the Office of Evangelization and Discipleship. He wants to hear from you and maybe feature your questions in his column! Please email questions and comments to [email protected].
Originally printed in the April 2023 issue of The Western Kentucky Catholic.