The dominant sentiment that shines forth from the Gospel accounts of the Resurrection is joy full of wonder, but a great wonder! Joy that comes from within! And in the Liturgy we relive the state of mind of the disciples over the news which the women had brought: Jesus is Risen! We have seen him!Jesus too talks, with joy, about what comes from within:
Let us allow this experience which is inscribed in the Gospel also to be imprinted in our hearts and shine forth from our lives. Let us allow the joyous wonder of Easter Sunday to shine forth in our thoughts, glances, behaviour, gestures and words.... If only we were so luminous! But this is not just cosmetic! It comes from within, from a heart immersed in the source of this joy.
37On the last day of the festival, the great day, while Jesus was standing there, he cried out, “Let anyone who is thirsty come to me, 38and let the one who believes in me drink. As the scripture has said, ‘Out of the believer’s heart shall flow rivers of living water.’” 39Now he said this about the Spirit, which believers in him were to receive; for as yet there was no Spirit, because Jesus was not yet glorified. (John 7:37-39)
I was curious where the scripture said this and I found it in Isaiah:
You will say in that day: I will give thanks to you, O Lord, for though you were angry with me, your anger turned away, and you comforted me. 2Surely God is my salvation; I will trust, and will not be afraid, for the Lord God is my strength and my might; he has become my salvation. 3With joy you will draw water from the wells of salvation. 4And you will say in that day: Give thanks to the Lord, call on his name; make known his deeds among the nations; proclaim that his name is exalted. 5Sing praises to the Lord, for he has done gloriously; let this be known in all the earth. 6Shout aloud and sing for joy, O royal Zion, for great in your midst is the Holy One of Israel. (Isaiah 12:1-6)Truly Our Lord Jesus Christ left the glory of heaven and entered our world as a naked baby like the rest of us. He suffered, died, and was buried. He released the prisoners from their holding area in the underworld and rose from the dead. He rose from the dead! Then he sent us the Holy Spirit. We who have been baptized and confirmed in the Holy Spirit have in our midst the Holy One of Israel. Jesus is alive in our hearts. There too are the Father and the Holy Spirit.
Do you feel like me, that you might be on rocky ground, that there is trouble, persecution trying to steal our Easter joy?
20As for what was sown on rocky ground, this is the one who hears the word and immediately receives it with joy; 21yet such a person has no root, but endures only for a while, and when trouble or persecution arises on account of the word, that person immediately falls away. (Matthew 12:20-21)Like a little seedling, I am struggling to get my roots down. Struggling against forces seen and unseen. The challenge to my endurance, my potential to let the impact of Jesus's love, his great sacrifice that gives me the hope of heaven shine in my life is clear to me. At the same time there in the Word of God, in Scripture, I find the path back to the Word that is Jesus, that is the Holy One of Israel. Here in my heart, the Holy Spirit can bring forth rivers of living water.
No one, no situation, no evil spirit can steal our joy! We can keep returning to Scripture, so we increase the confidence and intensity of our prayer time. We will find goodness (and all good comes from God--James 1:17) in people and in events, and look to see the hand of God, his will in everything. We can do this because He loves us and has given us the Holy Spirit, teaches us in his Word and in the Sacraments, and helps us help each other along right paths.