Sure-fire formula for true joy

By: Fr. Roy Cimagala

CHRIST has told us about this formula. Let’s closely follow the kind of equation he presented to achieve this true and complete joy. “As the Father loves me, so I also love you. Remain in my love. If you keep my commandments, you will remain in my love, just I have kept my Father’s commandments and remain in his love. I have told you this so that my joy might be in you and your joy might be complete.” (Jn 15,9-11)

In other words, joy can only be an effect of love. And the true, complete joy, not the fake, shallow and deceptive one, can only come from a genuine love that in its turn can only come from Christ. As he said, “My joy might be in you and your joy might be complete.”

This genuine love that produces the true joy is a matter of keeping the commandments of God, both the old and the new, as kept and lived very faithfully by Christ and as Christ himself gives it to us. Let us not be deceived by another source of joy. It can only be fake and harmful in the end.

How can we describe this true, complete joy? To be sure, it is not something confined exclusively to what is sensibly pleasant and sweet, emotionally uplifting and exhilarating or intellectually stimulating. It is not just a matter of sentiments. It is not just a fair-weather type of joy.

It is a joy that covers all the possible situations that we can be in, including what are opposed to what is sensibly pleasant, emotionally uplifting, etc. It can thrive even in the harshest of our human condition.

It is a joy that while it can be felt sensibly, emotionally, intellectually, is first of all spiritual and supernatural. It is a gift from God that while freely given needs to be merited by us precisely by keeping the commandments of God.

We need to make the pertinent adjustments in our understanding of the nature, character and source of joy. It should not just be a function of material and temporal factors. We should not rely on these factors which, unfortunately, many people today consider as the main causes for joy.

True joy has to be understood from the point of view of our Christian faith. It has to be pursued and developed by our active relationship with Christ, always activating our faith and making our faith the main guide in our reactions to things and in our general behavior.

Joy should be a constant and permanent feature in our life. Yes, it has to be worked on, but as long as our life in general is inspired by faith, this true joy that Christ gives us will always be with us.

We need to outgrow our tendency to understand joy in merely human, natural, material and temporal terms. Toward this end, we have to closely follow the example of Christ who was willing to suffer and die for our sins. Yes, it is a joy that is compatible with pain and suffering, with ‘blood, sweat and tears.’ It is a joy that will always give us peace and a sense of confidence even in the midst of trials and difficulties.

We have to actively spread this good news about true joy, and help teach everyone how to be truly united and identified with Christ so as to attain this joy. Let’s remember this sure-fire formula of joy.

Let’s hope that we can create a culture and an environment that is marked by this kind of joy, so that in every corner of the world, where man is found, this joy can be seen irrespective of the circumstances of anyone’s condition. It should be such that joy becomes a living and active feature in the world, always capable of spreading more and more widely.