In this week’s Gospel from Luke, the two disciples discuss their encounter with Jesus. Jesus Christ stood in their midst and said, “Peace be with you.” But the completely unexpected happened: something other than peace. In fact, the Apostles were “startled and frightened.” Jesus Christ was right there, but they feared.
In his homily on the third Sunday of Easter in 2018, Pope Francis reflected on this contrast; the joy the Apostles felt knowing Jesus Christ had risen, but the thought and fear of seeing him among them once again. By seeing him again, they would be entering once more into contact with the mystery of faith. The Apostles feared that ultimate joy.
The “fear of joy.” Pray on that for a minute. Why would we ever fear joy? How can we rise above it?
Pope Francis suggested that the “fear of joy is an illness.” We as Christians affirm that Jesus Christ has risen, but he is out there, a distance away. Jesus Christ, by his resurrection, gives us overwhelming joy. However, it seems that there are many times we can be consumed with the fear that the “joy” will come to meet us face to face again.
Ask Jesus for the strength to RISE above that fear of the ultimate joy. Like the disciples who “were startled and frightened” by the mystery of the Cross, we too can be overcome with fear. That’s ok! But through prayer and by living as a joyful missionary disciple, we can RISE above that fear. We can lift up our crosses and be prepared to be overcome with joy when we meet Jesus Christ face to face again.