“No one has ever heard of a sad saint or a saint with a funeral face,” Pope Francis said Sunday. “Unheard of! It would be a contradiction. A Christian is a person who has a heart full of peace because he knows how to find his joy in the Lord even when passing through difficult moments of life,” he said.
The Pope spoke these words before a crowd gathered in Saint Peter’s Square for his weekly midday prayer of the Sunday Angelus. Today marks “Gaudete Sunday” for Catholics, a day of rejoicing celebrated on the third Sunday of Advent, a traditionally penitential time leading up to Christmas.
“For two weeks,” the Pope said, “Advent has invited us to spiritual vigilance” and on this third Sunday the liturgy offers another attitude “to live this time of waiting for the Lord: joy. The joy of Jesus,” he said.
“The human heart desires joy. We all want joy–every family, every people aspires to happiness,” he said.
“You no longer need to look elsewhere!” Francis continued. “Jesus came to bring joy to all and forever. This is not only a joy to be hoped for or postponed for paradise, as if we were to be sad here on earth but in heaven we will be joyful. No! This is not it, but a real, present joy, because Jesus himself is our joy,” he said.
Christ “is the goal of the human heart that seeks joy and happiness,” he said.
“If this is our way of life, then the Good News will come into many homes and help people and families to rediscover that in Jesus there is salvation,” Francis said. “In Him you can find inner peace and strength to face every day the different situations of life, even the most heavy and difficult.”
“Having faith does not mean not having hard times, but having the strength to face them knowing that we are not alone,” Francis said. “And this is the peace that God gives to his children.”
“As we look to the Christmas that approaches,” Francis concluded, “the Church invites us to testify that Jesus is not a character from the past; He is the Word of God who continues to illuminate the path of man,” he said.
Last year the Pope wrote an “apostolic exhortation” on the theme of Christian joy, in which he said that joy “adapts and changes, but it always endures, even as a flicker of light born of our personal certainty that, when everything is said and done, we are infinitely loved.”
Follow Thomas D. Williams on Twitter @tdwilliamsrome