Well, today’s Gospel reading is an exact repeat of the Gospel we had for the Feast of Sts. Philip and James, which was just two days ago. That’s the kind of coincidence that happens on the church calendar sometimes. So I’m not going to say much about the Gospel today. Instead, I want to pick up on the last line of the first reading. Just to refresh our memories, that line was: “The disciples were filled with joy and the Holy Spirit.”
That’s an amazing line considering what happened to them earlier in the reading. The Jews showed them violent abuse and completely and vehemently contradicted their testimony to the Gospel. So they turned to the Gentiles who received the Message with great joy, but were later incited by some prominent Jews to expel them from their territory. When we look at that kind of situation, it has to strike us that joy is the last thing these men could possibly be filled with, right?
Yet that’s what happened. They were filled with joy and the Holy Spirit. That’s the way joy works. It’s not something conditioned by the external events of a person’s life. Joy is not a feeling. Joy, instead, is a direct result of the disciple’s decision to give their life to Christ and to follow his way. Joy does not mean that the disciple won’t experience sadness or even hard times. I can fully attest to that in these days myself. But joy does mean that the disciple will never give in to the sadness or the hard times because all those things have been made new in Christ.
Christ is the source of our true joy. We disciples must choose to live lives of joy and remain unaffected by the world and the events of our lives. We choose joy because we know the One who is our Salvation.