How Do We Reconcile Joy With the Cross?


Jesus constantly told us, “I have come to bring joy”:

If you keep my commandments, you will remain in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commandments and remain in his love.“I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and your joy may be complete (John 15: 10,11).

Pope John Paul II also reminded us,

“Christ came to bring joy… joy to friends and families, joy to the sick and elderly; indeed, He came to bring joy to all people. Go therefore and become messengers of divine joy.

But doesn’t the Cross dominate Christianity? How do we reconcile joy with the cross of Christ?

The way of perfection passes by way of the Cross. There is no holiness without renunciation and spiritual battle. Spiritual progress entails the ascesis and mortification that gradually lead to living in the peace and joy of the Beatitudes (CCC 2015).

For many, joy is very elusive. However, for many others joy is attainable when they embrace their suffering with Christ. Millions of people are able to find joy even in the sadness of a disability. 

The cross of Christ, embraced with love, never brings sadness with it, but joy, the joy of being saved and of doing a little of what he did on the day of his death (Pope Francis).

Robert Mueller ( March 11, 1923 – September 20, 2010) was the former Executive Assistant to five Secretary Generals of the United Nations. He made this brilliant statement,

A vagabond in a ditch or an invalid in a bed, can be a thousand times more joyful than an insatiable neurotic millionaire in his skyscraper.

I was privileged to be a friend of Robert Mueller for many years. We did two nationally syndicated TV Shows together, as well as many radio shows. He was a gifted man, admired at the UN, and an inspiration to many world leaders. His words were always based on the wisdom of Jesus Christ. 

Witnesses abound among both saints and sinners who have attained Joy, overcoming many forms of suffering and sorrow. Joy consists of an inner gladness that comes from the knowledge of God’s love. 

The fruits of charity are joy, peace, and mercy; charity demands beneficence and fraternal correction; it is benevolence; it fosters reciprocity and remains disinterested and generous; it is friendship and communion: Love is itself the fulfillment of all our works. There is the goal; that is why we run: we run toward it, and once we reach it, in it we shall find rest (CCC 1829)

If you choose to live in the Joy of Jesus, make His Joy a part of your life, and it will abide with you in all circumstances. Here is more of Mueller’s thinking: 

Decide to be cheerful. Render others cheerful. Praise the entire world with your cheer. Be a rock against sadness. Be optimistic and hopeful. Turn on your cheerful buttons, and be grateful always.

There is a level of spirituality above our ordinary day-to-day existence, which is rooted in the Joy of Jesus. Jesus said, “Faith can move mountains.” Either you believe Him or not. But why not? Who wants to languish in misery? We do well when obey the Gospel.  Faith is the acceptance of the mysteries of Divine Revelations. God’s ways are not man’s. 

Doubt is hesitation over believing revealed truth. It leads to faithlessness. Outright disbelief is a sad option. On the other hand, there is great wisdom in accepting the truth of supernatural mysteries about God’s Unchanging Love.

May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that you may abound in hope by the power of the holy Spirit (Romans 15:13).

There are many things in nature that are beyond our understanding, so too in the supernatural order. Take for example the basic truth that Almighty God is all-powerful.

 Once you believe that simple truth, the rest is easy. It is then no longer difficult to believe in God who became a man and grew in wisdom, age and grace; a God who loved the world so much that He suffered and died that we might live. 

 May the Lord be your strength and your JOY.

the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness,gentleness, self-control. Against such there is no law (Galatians 5:22).

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3 thoughts on “How Do We Reconcile Joy With the Cross?”

  1. Really think out Pope Francis prior to citing him.

    The cross of Christ, embraced with love, never brings sadness with it, but joy, the joy of being saved and of doing a little of what he did on the day of his death (Pope Francis).

    I can’t express how absurd that is. A Filipina nurse lost her entire family in a car crash last year in New Jersey…husband and 4 young daughters. Ask her if that cross never brings sadness. One of the nicest friends of mine from youth married a woman who left him and the children and ran off with a masseuse and later left the masseuse for a woman as Romans 1:26-27 predicted. Nothing but joy in that cross. Please. Saccharine is a prescence in Catholic culture frequently. But it is rarely rarely poured in the coffee by Popes.

    1. Is it possible that such expressions are intended as ideals or goals? There is the verse from Romans, “And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.” Those can be hard words to personalize in the middle of great tragedy too, but I often remind myself of the limitations of my own knowledge and vision, and simply try to trust.

  2. Dear Fr. Catoir….
    Thank you for this inspiring article. I have been through an incredible spiritual struggle for over three years.
    I wonder if I might be able to contact you to discuss a few things regarding spiritual warfare?
    Thank you, Father.

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