There are many voices out there today that paint a bleak picture of the Church and her ability to overcome secular culture and evangelize a broken world. They keep lamenting, “Look how bad everything is!” The jump from Church scandal to declining priestly vocations to empty pews. Sometimes, there are strong and important points to be made. But many times, unfortunately, these messengers of gloom are really embodying the term Pope Francis used in his apostolic exhortation, Evangelic Gaudium (The Joy of the Gospel), sourpusses.
I don’t think sourpuss is a theological term, but it is a term that seems to resonate with me. Too many people in the Church seem to have this disposition. Life isn’t easy, the world can be challenging, and the Church isn’t perfect. But these people act like they don’t know the end of the story: JESUS WINS!
During Lent we are preparing ourselves to more effectively receive the Easter message and then proclaim it to the world through our lives, our words, and our deeds. We must bear witness to the fact that all of creation is redeemed and that death has no power over us. Jesus brings us Good News that liberates, resuscitates, and invigorates those who choose to be His disciples.
But who would want to listen to that message and become a disciple of Jesus when the one sent to proclaim this Good News to them is a sourpuss! Joy is infectious. Love leads to more love. Even in Lent, a season of sacrifice and penance, we are called to go forth joyfully. So even while you are fasting, giving up something as a sacrifice, and reconciling with God, allow yourself to feel the joy of the Gospel. Because like the words of the old song say:
Now when you’re cryin’ you bring on the rain
So stop that sighin’ be happy again
keep on smilin Cause when you’re smilin’
And the whole world smiles with you!
(by Larry Shay, Mark Fisher, and Joe Goodwin)
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