VATICAN CITY (CNS) — Using a phrase that translates literally as “the face of a pickled pepper,” Pope Francis said that when Christians have more of a sourpuss than a face that communicates the joy of being loved by God, they harm the witness of the church.
“The Christian is a man or woman of joy,” the pope said May 10, giving a homily during his morning Mass in the chapel of the Domus Sanctae Marthae.
While happiness is a good thing, the pope said, it’s not the same as the profound joy that comes from “the certainty that Jesus is with us and with the Father.”
If one tries to be happy all the time, he said, that happiness ends up “transforming itself into lightness, superficiality and leads to a state of lacking Christian wisdom; it can make us fools, dupes, no?”
“Joy is something else. Joy is a gift from the Lord. It fills us from the inside,” the pope said at the Mass attended by staff from Vatican Radio and concelebrated by Venezuelan Archbishop Baltazar Enrique Porras Cardozo of Merida and Abbot Notker Wolf, the Benedictine abbot primate.
The joy the Lord gives cannot be “bottled up so we can keep it with us,” he said. “If we want this joy just for ourselves, in the end it will make us sick and our hearts will shrivel up and our faces will not transmit that great joy, but nostalgia, that melancholy that isn’t healthy.”
Joy naturally leads to generosity, he said.
Pope Francis said joy is a “pilgrim virtue,” one that moves Christians to journey out into the world preaching the Gospel and proclaiming Christ.
Joy, he said, “is one of the virtues of the great,” of those who don’t allow themselves to get caught up in silly little annoyances or in “little things inside the community of the church; they always look to the horizon.”
“The Christian sings with joy and walks carrying this joy,” the pope said.