5. The Gospel, where the glorious Cross of Christ shines dazzlingly, insistently invites us to the joy. Some examples 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, Mary proclaims, “My spirit shivers with joy in God, my Savior.” (Lk. 1:47)
When Jesus commences his ministry, John exclaims, “This is my joy, which has arrived in its fullness.” (Jn. 3:29) Jesus Himself “was filled with joy in the Holy Spirit.” (Lk. 10:21) His message is full of rejoicing: “I have said these things to you all, so that My joy may be in you all, and the joy of you all may be full.” (Jn. 15:11) Our Christian joy drinks from the fountain of His overflowing heart. He promises His disciples, “You all will be sad, but your sadness will be turned into joy.” (Jn. 16:20) He repeats, “Truly, I will come back, and I will make the hearts of you all glad, and nobody will be able to take away your joy from you all.” (Jn. 16:22) On seeing Him resurrected, afterward “they were made glad.” (Jn. 20:20)
The book of the Acts of the Apostles tells that in the first community, “they ate the food with joy.” (Acts 2:46) For wherever the disciples would go, they had “a great joy” (Acts 8:8), and in the midst of persecution, “they were filled up with rejoicing.” (Acts 13:52) A eunuch, sad before being baptized, “continued on his road rejoicing,” (Acts 8:39) and the jailer “was made joyous with all his family by having believed in God.” (Acts 16:34)
Why don’t we too walk into this river of joy?
6. There are Christians whose option appears to be a Lent without an Easter But I recognize that joy does not live in the same way in all the phases and circumstances of life — at times, very hard circumstances. It adapts itself and transforms itself, and always remains at least like a welling-up of light that is born from the personal certainty of being infinitely loved, in back of everything. I understand people who are inclined to sadness over the grave difficulties that they have to suffer; but little by little, one has to permit the joy of one’s faith to begin to awaken itself, like a secret but sure confidence even in the middle of the worst anguishes. “I find myself far from peace, I have forgotten what it was called… But I drag something from my memory, something that makes me hope. That the love of the Lord has not been finished, that His tenderness has not been used up; morning after morning, they renew themselves. Great is His faithfulness! …It is good to hope in silence for the salvation of the Lord.” (Lm. 3:17, 21-23, 26.)
7. Temptation frequently appears under the form of excuses and protests, as if innumerable conditions must be met before joy could be possible. This tends to happen because “technological society has managed to multiply occasions of pleasure, but finds it very difficult to engender joy.” (2)
I can say that the most beautiful and spontaneous rejoicings that I have seen in my years of life are those of very poor persons who have little to cling to. I also remember the genuine joy of those who, even in the midst of great professional predicaments, have known to keep a believing, disinterested, and simple heart. In varied manners, those joys drank from the fountain of the ever-greatest love of God, Who has manifested Himself to us in Jesus Christ. I have not tired of repeating those words of Benedict XVI which bring us to the center of the Gospel: “One does not begin to be Christian by an ethical decision or a great idea, but through an encounter with an event, with a Person Who gives a new horizon to life and, with it, a decisive Orientation.” (3)
8. Thanks only to this encounter — or re-encounter — with God’s love which turns into happy friendship, we are rescued from our isolated conscience and from self-referentialness. We come to be fully humans when we are more than humans, when we permit God to bring us out beyond ourselves in order to reach our most true being. There is the wellspring of the evangelizing action. Because if someone has chosen that Love which brings back life’s meaning, how can he hold back the desire to spread it to others?
 Ibid. 8: AAS 67 (1975), 292.
 Encyclical Letter Deus Caritas Est (25 December 2005), 1: AAS 98 (2006), 217.