Well done, my good and faithful servant.
Since you were faithful in small matters,
I will give you great responsibilities.
Come, share your master's joy.
The collect of this 33rd Sunday recalls the "constant gladness of being devoted to you." It echoes The Joy of the Gospel when the master congratulated two faithful servants who had invested wisely. It anticipates The Joy of the Gospel which we expect when the Lord returns to set all things right.
Pope Francis will be remembered as the happy pope. Inspired by the Lord, attentive to prayer and edified by the witness of poverty, he sees opportunity where many see only crisis. He seems to discover gladness wherever he goes.
Lifted up like Jesus on his cross, the pope can see from the towering heights of his papacy the world's disappointment. But the eyes of faith see abundant grace in this sadness. O felix culpa! the deacon sings during the Easter Vigil, as the Church contemplates the Resurrection. O happy fault that merited such a redeemer.
I remarked recently in this blog about Saint Paul's persistent vision of joy. He was not bothered with the "problem of evil," sometimes called theodicy. Christ has won the victory. Paul knew it because he had been starved, neglected, betrayed, beaten, chained, imprisoned and exiled many times over but the Spirit still rejoiced within him. He could not deny his own happiness; it was nothing but privilege to suffer as the Lord had suffered.
There is sadness of course -- we pause to feel sadness -- as much for the perpetrators of crime as for the victims. But sadness need not lead to disappointment.
No Catholic imagines the Blessed Mother on Calvary weeping for disappointment. Grief, of course, for the son of her body who suffers dreadfully. But she does not venture into disappointment. She waits with a faithful heart for what eye has not seen and ear has not heard, for what God has prepared for those who love him.
The philosopher would ask why but the Christian believes in God's fidelity and watches with expectation for the Vindication that will certainly come.
Next Sunday we will celebrate Christ the King of the Universe; we will hear Saint Matthew's parable of the Last Judgment. We expect That Day with holy fear and eager longing. On That Day there will be great joy in heaven and on earth for God's justice and our faith will be vindicated in the sight of the nations.