Second fruit: Joy!
Thomas Aquinas, in his Summa Theologica states that “…joy is with expansion of heart…”1
When I read this, I immediately recall Dr. Seuss’s Grinch, whose heart, after receiving the true meaning of Christmas “…grew three sizes larger that day.”2
Joy is not a fleeting, momentary exhilaration resulting from the latest toy, gadget or accomplishment. Joy is an ever present reality and hinges entirely on Love.
A wonderful witness of joy can be seen in the birth of a new baby. After delivery, when baby is placed in mother’s arms, both parents radiate heart-expanding joy as they embrace new life.
Joy cannot be taken away. Even in life’s difficult moments, there is always the opportunity for expansion of the heart. Francis of Assisi tells his version of true joy to Brother Leo:
“I return from Perugia and arrive here in the dead of night. It’s winter time, muddy, and so cold that icicles have formed on the edges of my habit and keep striking my legs and blood flows from such wounds. Freezing, covered with mud and ice, I come to the gate and, after I’ve knocked and called for some time, a brother comes and asks: ‘Who are you?’ ‘Brother Francis,’ I answer. ‘Go away!’ he says. ‘This is not a decent hour to be wandering about! You may not come in!’ When I insist, he replies: ‘Go away! You are simple and stupid! Don’t come back to us again! There are many of us here like you—we don’t need you!’ I stand again at the door and say: ‘For the love of God, take me in tonight!’ And he replies: ‘I will not! Go to the Crosiers’ place and ask there!’ I tell you this: If I had patience and did not become upset, true joy, as well as true virtue and the salvation of my soul, would consist in this.”3
When we choose to love through the good and ill of life, our capacity to give and receive love increases, and the fruit of Love is joy.
1 Thomas Aquinas, Summa Theologica. Translated by the Fathers of the English Dominican Province. Benziger Bros. edition, 1947. Digital file was produced through the kindness of Sandra K. Perry, Perrysburg, Ohio.
2 Dr. Seuss, How the Grinch Stole Christmas. New York: Random House, 1957
3 Francis of Assisi: Early Documents (FA:ED) Vol. 1 The Saint, edited by Regis Armstrong, OFM Cap., Wayne Hellmann, OFM Conv., and William J Short, OFM. New York: New City Press, 1999, pp. 166-167
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