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Our Joy May Be Complete

Feast of Saint John, Apostle and Evangelist

First Reading: 1 John 1:1-4

Beloved:
What was from the beginning,
what we have heard,
what we have seen with our eyes,
what we looked upon
and touched with our hands
concerns the Word of life—
for the life was made visible;
we have seen it and testify to it
and proclaim to you the eternal life
that was with the Father and was made visible to us—
what we have seen and heard
we proclaim now to you,
so that you too may have fellowship with us;
for our fellowship is with the Father
and with his Son, Jesus Christ.
We are writing this so that our joy may be complete.

Responsorial Psalm: Psalm 97:1-2, 5-6, 11-12

R. (12) Rejoice in the Lord, you just!
The LORD is king; let the earth rejoice;
let the many isles be glad.
Clouds and darkness are around him,
justice and judgment are the foundation of his throne.
R. Rejoice in the Lord, you just!
The mountains melt like wax before the LORD,
before the LORD of all the earth.
The heavens proclaim his justice,
and all peoples see his glory.
R. Rejoice in the Lord, you just!
Light dawns for the just;
and gladness, for the upright of heart.
Be glad in the LORD, you just,
and give thanks to his holy name.
R. Rejoice in the Lord, you just!

Gospel: John 20:1A AND 2-8

On the first day of the week,
Mary Magdalene ran and went to Simon Peter
and to the other disciple whom Jesus loved, and told them,
“They have taken the Lord from the tomb,
and we do not know where they put him.”
So Peter and the other disciple went out and came to the tomb.
They both ran, but the other disciple ran faster than Peter
and arrived at the tomb first;
he bent down and saw the burial cloths there, but did not go in.
When Simon Peter arrived after him,
he went into the tomb and saw the burial cloths there,
and the cloth that had covered his head,
not with the burial cloths but rolled up in a separate place.
Then the other disciple also went in,
the one who had arrived at the tomb first,
and he saw and believed.

NAB

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“So that our joy may be complete.”

Today’s first reading from the First Epistle of John, on that Beloved Apostle’s feast day, bears reading again and again. The letter is poetic and beautiful and tugs at my heart. But what is complete joy? I have no idea.

I’ve been pretty open over the last few years about having depression. Depression doesn’t hang over me everyday like it has in the past—I have the right tools to deal with it—but I constantly wonder if I can ever really know what complete joy is.

Is it something any of us can know in this life? I’ve never joined hands to be bonded to a spouse. I’ve never held my own child for the first time. The kinds of things I imagine that will someday fill my heart with grace and love. But I have fallen in love, seen a student’s face light up in the classroom, and had long conversations with a kindred spirit friend. And those have filled my heart with grace and love. I wonder, then, if the true complete joy can only be found in relationship with the Trinity rather than in any of these moments of this world. Saint John, for one, seems to have known this. His total devotion to Christ and Our Lady overflowed with the kind of love I aspire to in my own life.

There’s a Sufjan Stevens lyric in his song “John My Beloved” that I turn to again and again:

“I love you more than the world can contain
In its lonely and ramshackle head[.]”

How can I love more than the world can contain? If I can love that much, I am sure my joy will be complete.

Crowd out the cares of this world with prayer today. Together, we can fill the world with more love than it can contain.

Brigid Hogan is a Midwestern graduate student who finds peace in lakes, the Mass, and fiction when she isn’t ensconced in schoolwork. Find out more about her here.

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