Today, Laetare Sunday, Holy Mother Church invites us to rejoice. You who till now were in the sadness of penitential practices, rejoice now, for we have reached the middle of our Lenten observance and the paschal solemnities are just a step away.
How can we be joyful in a world that offers so much bad news? What is the motive of our joy? There are essentially two, and both of them are based on faith. Joy is the fruit of hope, and it is even more the fruit of love. It is fruit of the latter, for as St Thomas tells us, "joy is caused by love, either by the presence of the one we love or by the fact that our own good is contained and preserved in the one we love". Since through faith we know that God is present to us and in us through sanctifying grace, our love for God should give us much joy.
It is also an effect of hope, for even though we do possess God through grace in this life, our possession of Him is neither full nor definitive—we can lose God through sin. So the theological virtue of hope it is which gives us the assurance that, relying not on ourselves, but on God's powerful grace, we will make our way safely through all the temptations of this life and attain to the full and definitive possession of Him in eternity.
So if joy is lacking in our lives, perhaps we need to love more, and perhaps we need to make more frequent acts of hope and confidence in the divine succour promised to those who request it with a sincere heart and who do what lies in themselves.
It is precisely the Most Holy Eucharist which is God among us and which is the pledge of eternal life. And that is the most profound reason for which on this Sunday the Roman liturgy gives us the miracle of the second multiplication of loaves in St John, ch 6. This miracle prefigures the the Eucharist, and therefore should give us a much greater love and trust in the Lord. And from love and hope spring joy.
I rejoice with those who say to me: Let us go to the House of the Lord. Already our feet are standing in thy vestibule, O Jerusalem, that is, in the Holy Church who, as our heavenly Mother, opens for us the gates to the eternal kingdom!