Kempis hits on an obvious truth if one ponders it for just a moment (2,6). No one is joyful when they find out they have been lied to. We all (should) want to hear truth from other persons. We are guaranteed by the church Christ established that we will hear truth from Divine Revelation. The Gospel, by definition, is “good news.” Good news brings the well-adjusted person joy! Jesus, who gives us the Gospel, in fact all of Revelation as the Word of God, is the Truth (see Jn 14:6) who promised this happiness to all who are faithful to Him (see Mt 25:21).
We read in today’s first reading (Acts 4:1-12) that five thousand came to believe after Peter and his companions’ arrest after hearing them preach and witnessing a miraculous healing just beforehand. These disciples gladly made that trade: suffering for the conversion of souls (see Acts 5:41). They are so emboldened by the Holy Spirit that they preach Christ to those very religious leaders who arrested them and arranged for Jesus’ execution. Bold and fearless (and joyful!) were they with the power of the Spirit.
“Joy” appears well over two hundred times in the Bible (over three dozen times in the Psalms alone). Let us look at just three of these occurrences as it relates to this discussion.
Consider it all joy, my brothers, when you encounter various trials, for you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. (Jas 1:2-3)
The disciples spoke truth to power and were joyful in doing so despite the persecution they received for it. They could not compromise on the message of the Gospel, even to spare their lives, as so many were harassed, threatened, arrested, and even killed for being stalwart in their faith. Most of us in the western world need not (yet?) have to deal with the possibility of martyrdom, but being attacked and threatened personally and in the media is a common occurrence for even the slightest deviation from corrupt, godless, secular orthodoxy. Where do you stand?
Nothing gives me greater joy than to hear that my children are walking in the truth. (3 Jn 4)
John, the beloved, and longest lived apostle, writes this short letter near the end of his life. So it is not to be taken lightly that his greatest joy is that those he serves as bishop are “walking in the truth.” Again, joy and truth go together. It is worthwhile examining all our actions in this light. Are all of our thoughts, words, and actions “in the truth”? If not, are we sincerely joyful in those areas in which we are not in conformity with the truth of God?
[T]he fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. (Gal 5:22-23)
Paul famously lays out the nine fruits of the Holy Spirit to the Galatians. Joy is mentioned second only to the everlasting (see 1 Cor 13:13) theological virtue of love. The connection among all of these fruits, and especially in this example with joy, is evident in the apostles. They exuberantly burst forth at Pentecost when the Spirit descended upon them in fire (Acts 2:1-4). For the baptized in right relationship with God, the Spirit dwells in us as well (especially the Confirmed). Do we tap into this great gift and pray for its increase so that we live every moment, regardless of circumstances, in the joy of truth?