Jesus, what a joy and what a gift to have this
time to be alone with you! I want to know you more deeply. I want to hope in you more firmly. I want
to love you with greater constancy in my daily life. Only you can give me these gifts. Only you can
make me a bold and joyful apostle of your Kingdom.
Lord, help me
to experience the new joy that comes from carrying the cross alongside you.
1. The Joy
of the Bridegroom:
The Old Testament prophets, especially Hosea and Isaiah, describe the
relationship between Israel and Yahweh as a marriage covenant. Israel is the bride, often an
unfaithful one, and Yahweh is the bridegroom. When Christ refers to himself as the bridegroom, he is
appropriating a title that had been reserved to God alone. Clearly, Jesus is much more than an
ordinary rabbi. What experience do we most associate with a bridegroom and the wedding feast? Joy
"Although it is true that the cross is never absent from an authentically Christian life, it is
equally true that the God who meets us on that cross is the same God who created the heavens and the
earth, the oceans and the mountains, laughter, sunlight, and every earthly delight" (John
Bartunek, LC, The Better Part, p. 365). Christ came to bring us joy, a joy that would last into
2. Should Christians Fast?
Christ says that when the bridegroom is taken
away, then his disciples will fast. This is his first reference in the Gospel of Mark to his coming
passion. Fasting is a way of sharing in Christ's sufferings. Fasting, sacrifices, and acts of self
denial are also means to detach ourselves from earthly goods in order to cling more firmly to Christ
himself. They make us aware of how much we need God. But these ways of sharing Christ's cross should
not make us glum followers. "Some Christians give the impression that following Christ is a somber
affair, or that the Christian life consists above all of dour sacrifices and boring obligations.
Joyless, dreary, dull. No wonder their friends want to stay as far away from Christianity as
possible!... If our friendship with Christ does not fill us with contagious enthusiasm, we're
probably being a half hearted friend" (John Bartunek, LC, The Better Part, p.
3. "Behold, I Make All Things New."
The movie The Passion of the
Christ puts this phrase from Revelation on Christ's lips when he meets his mother Mary as he carries
the cross to Calvary. Christ's "narrow gate" of the cross leads to a radically new way of life. It
brings an abundance of joy, a new vigor, interior peace. The new wine of the life of grace that
Christ pours out on his followers must change not only their way of life, but even their internal
attitudes and consciousness. As St. Teresa of Avila once put it, "A sad saint is a bad
saint." What obstacles in my life do I need to overcome in order to follow Christ with greater
joy and to radiate that joy to others?
Conversation with Christ:
Lord, for the new life you came to bring
your own divine life of grace inside me and each
your followers who is faithful to you. Help me to share
that joy with
others. I long to be a true apostle of your joy.
will forget about myself and seek only to help make those around me joyful.