If at no other time in the Christian year, this week is certainly the one which singularly brings us into a one-ing with our brothers and sisters throughout the world in a conscious, intentional way. It is not as individuals that we pass through the Paschal mystery year by year but as a community of faith. For each of us to regard the few drops in our cup—which is all we can individually gather of the truth of God-with-us suffering, dying and rising—brings us to meditate on and join in prayer with the truths that our even-Christians, our brothers and sisters throughout the world are gathering. By ourselves we know so little; together we know so much of Christ. What we ourselves do not know of the divine power and wisdom in the folly of the Cross, those with whom we are part of the Body of Christ are coming to know in the crucibles of suffering. But even that “knowing” of our collected daily lives is a faith which is only seen “through a glass darkly”.
We look at our broken world and at ourselves and see anger and sadness, loneliness and fear, darkness and stupidity, and the inability to love. So is it any wonder that we rejoice for a few hours on Easter night, but can hardly sustain it through the next day, let alone a week or throughout the Great Fifty Days?
We lack what might be called the asceticism of joy. Joy is not a question of good feelings or positive thinking or even the healthy optimism of a sane self-image. Joy is a matter of faith—allowing our death and resurrection in Christ and His presence within us to govern our lives—even when our actions, thoughts, and feelings stubbornly hug the earth instead of sailing “above.” Julian says that the fullness of joy is to see God in all things. It sounds wonderful, but to see, we must begin to seek and to look.
When we look at the face of a person who takes the Gospel seriously, what do we see? Someone who experiences keenly his or her own weaknesses, who carries more than an average share of the world’s pain, and who hears clearly the cries of anguish rising on all sides; yet someone radically committed to the asceticism of joy, to letting go—in faith—of his or her own darkness so that the risen Christ can shed the light of His new creation into and through the heart in which God dwells. Alleluia!