Joy in the Encounter with Christ
by Erik Ritland
The Word and the Church
Bible commentary following the Catholic Lectionary (which gives an overview of the entire Bible) by the Fully Alive staff
Monday of the Eight Week in Ordinary Time
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I Pet. 1: 3-9
Mk. 10: 17-27
The book of Peter is filled with concise, meaningful spiritual phrases. From today’s first reading:
Although you have not seen him you love him;
even though you do not see him now yet you believe in him,
you rejoice with an indescribable and glorious joy,
as you attain the goal of faith, the salvation of your souls.
I Pet. 1:8-9
What beautiful, comforting words! “Although you have not seen him you love him; even though you do not see him now yet you believe in him.” It is reminiscent of the Lord’s words to St. Thomas after he doubted: “Have you come to believe because you have seen me? Blessed are those who have not seen and have believed” (Jn 20:29). This is the faith of all Christians, a faith that, as Peter says, leads to “indescribably and glorious joy.”
Pope Francis is filled with this joy of a relationship with God through Christ. I keep a poignant, adorable prayer card of Pope Francis in my pocket. On one side he is giving a joyous smile and a thumbs up, and on the other is this prayer:
The first word that I wish to say to you: joy! Do not be men and women of sadness: a Christian can never be sad! Never give way to discouragement! Ours is not a joy born of having many possessions, but of having encountered a person: Jesus, in our midst.
Christianity is not a philosophy, a set of moral codes, or just one religion among many. It is an actual encounter with Jesus Christ, God, who is truly and presently in our midst. This relationship gives us joy, even amid sorrow. This intimacy is strengthened by prayer, reading the Bible, the sacraments, and participation in the Church.
Erik Ritland is a writer and musician. He is the lead staff writer and podcast host of Fully Alive Christian Media and Rambling On, which features commentary on music, sports, and an intellectual ragbag. He was also Lead Staff Writer for Minnesota culture blogs Curious North and Hometown Hustle. Reach him via email.
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Erik Ritland received his MA in Theology in 2017. He's the founder and content manager of Fully Alive Christian Media and Rambling On, copy editor and writer for Music in Minnesota, and an acclaimed songwriter.