“I have said these things to you so that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be complete.” – John 15:11 (NRSV)
So it was all about joy.
It was for joy he was born, for joy he befriended and healed, for joy he offended the powers, for joy he said love one another and love the world even though you don’t belong to it and it’s never going to love you back. It was for joy he endured the terrible shame, for joy he was raised, for joy he said peace be with you and pardoned us everything, for joy he ascended to God’s right hand, for joy he will return. So that his joy would be in us. So that our joy would be complete.
And all this time you thought it was about duty, so you’ve been doing it. You thought it was about making a Herculean effort, so you’ve been making one. You thought it was about becoming a better person and making the world a better place, so you’ve slogged away. You thought it was about the difference you should make, about getting the holy job done.
But it was always about joy. The joy of his company. The joy of his grace. The joy of his love for God. The joy of his justice. Even the hard joy of his suffering. It was about the joy of being branches of his vine, sheep of his flock, drinking from the living waters of his deep, deep well. And yes, it was about doing just and saving work, but with him, in him, and through him, not for him, like some boss, and not to merit a star, and not until you drop from exhaustion, or disappointment, or despair.
No, it was for the joy we know when we know him. It was always about joy. It still is.
Jesus, resurrected joy of our desiring, be our joy forever.
Mary Luti is a long time seminary educator and pastor, author of Teresa of Avila’s Way and numerous articles, and founding member of The Daughters of Abraham, a national network of interfaith women’s book groups.