Dying from an extremely painful bone cancer, Blessed Chiara Luce Badano (1971-1990) looked at her family with a radiant smile and declared with her last breath, “Good-bye. Be happy, because I am happy!”
When we are filled with the joy of the Holy Spirit, we long to share that profound joy with others.
Imagine for a moment the Lord Jesus looking at you lovingly and declaring to you the same words Blessed Chiara Luce spoke to her family: “Be happy, because I am happy.” Think of the great happiness, the infinite joy that Jesus, Beloved Son of the Father, Temple of the Holy Spirit, God Himself, possesses.
As He looks at you, He rejoices over you. The Lord does not simply tolerate you. He delights in your very being. It is He who created you out of love. He did not need you, but He wanted you, desired you. He chose you to be His own.
At the Last Supper, Jesus prayed about His apostles and all those down the ages who would come to believe in Him through them, “Father, they are Your gift to me” (John 17:24). You are the Father’s gift to Jesus, and to Him you are a pearl of great price — no less a price than that of His own blood!
In his apostolic letter Desiderio Desideravi, Pope Francis proclaims that at that same Last Supper, as He gave us the gift of His Body and Blood in the Eucharist, Jesus was thinking of each one of us and of every Holy Communion we would receive. He has always been longing for that union with us. His Heart delights in this communion. And He, too, longs to share the joy of the Spirit with you and with me.
“Be happy, because I am happy.” This is not a happiness that knows nothing of suffering. Blessed Chiara Luce proclaimed it while in excruciating pain on her deathbed. Rather, this joy of the Spirit is something much deeper and more firmly rooted than any suffering. It is the joy that Jesus had even in the desolation of the Cross, because He was saving you from your sin and winning you again for the Father.
For us, it is the joy of knowing we have been redeemed, saved, set free — not from sin only in a generic way but from our own personal sins. It is the joy of knowing we are beloved of and chosen by the Holy Trinity. It is the immense joy of the presence of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit living in us and pouring out of us into the lives of others.
When I am secure in the love of God for me, when I am deeply convicted that He is a God who keeps His promises and in whom I can place my complete trust, then I am filled with such supernatural joy that this happiness cannot help but flow out to others. The joy of the Lord at my union with and trust in Him overflows into my soul and then spreads from me to others.
In our world today, I think many people no longer believe that happiness is really possible. But, Brothers and Sisters in Christ, I can witness to you that profound happiness really is possible, even in this life. It is found, though, not in wealth or possessions or success or relationships or our favorite meal or high opinions of ourselves, but in the intimacy of Holy Communion, in the quiet of prayer and adoration, in the freedom regained through confession, in the self-gift of charity toward God and my neighbor, in a life marked by living faith, in the confidence that I am a beloved son or daughter of God the Father.
This Advent, during the first year of our National Eucharistic Revival, let us approach Him frequently in Mass and adoration, knowing that He will fulfill the deepest desires for happiness in our hearts. He invites each of us to Himself with the invitation, “Be happy, because I am happy!” Let us share in the joy of the Lord!
Sr. Mary Martha Becnel is a member of the Ann Arbor-based Dominican Sisters of Mary, Mother of the Eucharist.