Then at the end of the gospel the women rejoice upon finding the tomb is empty, Magdalene rejoices when she recognizes the risen Lord, the apostles rejoice when he appears in their midst.
The final verses of Luke’s gospels are: While he was blessing them, he withdrew from them and was carried up into heaven. And they worshiped him, and returned to Jerusalem with great joy; and they were continually in the temple blessing God” (Lk 24: 51-53).
Joy is a sign of the presence of the Kingdom of God: “For the kingdom of God is … righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit” (and Rom. 14:17, cp. Gal. 5:22). Joy is part of the Christian experience, just as it was for all our fathers and mothers in the faith. It’s just a natural response to hearing the good news, and a foretaste of the eternal joy we will share with them one day in the heavenly kingdom.
LOOK WHO’S REJOICING NOW!
In the readings for this past Friday’s Solemnity of the Sacred Heart of Jesus there was an interesting twist on the theme of Christian joy. The entire passage reads:
Jesus addressed this parable to the Pharisees and scribes: "What man among you having a hundred sheep and losing one of them would not leave the ninety-nine in the desert and go after the lost one until he finds it? And when he does find it, he sets it on his shoulders with great joy and, upon his arrival home, he calls together his friends and neighbors and says to them, 'Rejoice with me because I have found my lost sheep.' I tell you, in just the same way there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous people who have no need of repentance." (Lk 15:3-7)
But notice that here it is no longer the believer who is rejoicing -- it’s rather God who is rejoicing in us sinners. What a beautiful picture: the Lord being filled with joy over you! Over who you are and what your are doing; over your fumbling attempts at attaining happiness, over your repenting and returning to God, over everything you are and everything you do.
I love the idea that God delights in each of us. Especially when I’m having a bad day and feeling down, I can feel better right away when I realize that at that very moment God is taking delight in me, that I am bringing a smile to the Lord’s face. How beautiful is that!