VATICAN CITY — While Jesus promises great joy, being a Christian doesn’t mean that life will become all sunshine and roses, Pope Francis said.
The joy Jesus promises comes from knowing there is a light at the end of the tunnel, and receiving the strength and hope needed to get through the hard times, the pope said.
“We have to tell the truth: not every part of Christian life is a party. Not all of it!” the pope said May 30 during his early morning Mass in the Domus Sanctae Marthae, where he lives.
Challenges such as illness, having troubles with a family member, a paycheck that doesn’t cover expenses or defaulting on a mortgage and losing one’s home are not uncommon, he said in his homily, according to a report by Vatican Radio.
There are “many problems, we have many. But Jesus tells us, ‘Do not be afraid!'”
The pope said there are two kinds of sadness or grief: one that leads to despair, and one that is at peace with joy in hope.
There is “the sadness that happens to all of us when we head down a path that is no good,” such as when we try to “buy joy, worldly happiness,” he said, but “in the end, there is an emptiness in us, a sadness.”
“This is the sadness of bad happiness,” he said, while the happiness that comes from Christ “is a joy in hope that will come.”
The pope said Jesus describes “the sadness that turns into joy” in the day’s reading from the Gospel of St. John (16:20-24) when Jesus told his disciples that “you will weep and mourn, while the world rejoices; you will grieve, but your grief will become joy.”
He said Jesus explains how life’s difficulties and trials can be endured with a peaceful heart by using the example of a woman in labor, who experiences a suffering that leads to the joy felt with the child finally in her arms.
That final joy is “the joy of Jesus, a purified joy” that can never be taken away, Pope Francis said.
“The sign that we have this joy in hope” is a soul at peace, despite life’s trials and difficulties, he said.
“If you are at peace, you have the seed of this joy that will come.”
This “is the message of the church today: Do not be afraid,” he said, and “be courageous in suffering.”
“Think about what comes after with the Lord; afterwards comes joy, after the darkness comes the sun.”