Voices of Valor

If joy were a crime, would I be convicted?

“If Christianity were a crime, would there be sufficient evidence to convict me?” This question is an interesting twist on Bishop’s distinction between admirers and followers of Christ.  As we reflect on this question, we might be inclined to examine externalities—things we do or say that make our Christianity visible to the world.  But this twist on the question might challenge us to look deeper:

If joy were a crime, would there be enough evidence to convict me? 

After all, these questions are truly one in the same.

To be Christian is to be joyful. To be a Christian is to be prepared to give answer for the hope that is in us.  (1 Pt 3:15) To be a Christian is to have encountered the risen Lord and to have come to realize the “good news” that Christ has died for our sins. To be a Christian is to experience enduring gratitude, hope, and, therefore, joy from having been made new. 

Do others see our lives, hear our words, watch our demeanor, and demand answer for the hope that is in us?  Do they see sufficient evidence to prosecute (convict) us for our joy? 

This is not a question of whether we look successful and satisfied in the eyes of the world, free of trouble or difficulties.  In fact, Christ promised us all manner of challenges in life (e.g., Jn 15:18-25). Yet Scripture demands that we “count it all joy” when we are tested (Jm 1:2-7) and even rejoice with “unutterable and exalted joy” amid difficulties. (1 Pt 1:6-8)

Joy is a no-excuses demand of Christianity. 

We must be joyful witnesses, even in—better yet—even more so in—times of difficulty. 

Returning to a theme from last week: this is a hard teaching.

How can we live up to this standard? Once again, the answer is, we can’t…if we trust in ourselves. We can only do this if we trust in God and cooperate with His grace.  “With men this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.” (Mt 19:26)

The kind of joy that burns brightly and strongly even amid the storms of life is not natural.  It is supernatural. It is a fruit of the Holy Spirit dwelling in us. The fruits of the Holy Spirit, according to St. Paul, are, “love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control.” (Gal 5:22)

As baptized and confirmed Catholics, we have received the indwelling of the Holy Spirit and been sealed in Him.  Are we bearing His fruits of “love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control?” If not, we must ask whether we are cooperating with the Holy Spirit dwelling in us or getting in His way? We must decrease so that He may increase (Jn 3:30).

We should ask for this grace, in confidence, as our Savior told us to do…

And I tell you, Ask, and it will be given you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you.  For everyone who asks receives, and he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks it will be opened.  What father among you, if his son asks for a fish, will instead of a fish give him a serpent; or if he asks for an egg, will give him a scorpion?  If you, then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will the heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!

Lk 11: 9-13

Our heavenly Father will not be surprised to hear us knocking and asking for the Holy Spirit to increase in us, for He already knows our needs before we ask him. (Mt 6:8) 

We must merely have the humility to ask for the Spirit…

Come, Holy Spirit, fill the hearts of your faithful and enkindle in them the fire of your love.
Send forth your spirit and they shall be created.
And you shall renew the face of the earth.

Let us pray.  O God, who didst instruct the hearts of the faithful by the light of the Holy Spirit, grant us in the same spirit to be truly wise, and ever to rejoice in his consolation.  Through Christ our Lord.


May all those we encounter see the joy and hope that is in us and demand that we give answer for it, because the answer is the Gospel, and we are called to proclaim it to all nations.

Onward…with joy…brothers,
The Legion of Valor Leadership Team