In today’s first reading from Acts 15, we see that the early Church was hierarchical. There was a dispute about whether the Gentiles needed to be circumcised and follow the Mosaic laws in order to be saved. Paul and Barnabas knew that this was not a matter that could be settled on a local level. This involved the teaching of the Church. So they went to Jerusalem to consult with the Apostles. The Pope (Peter) and the bishops (the Apostles) rendered their decision. And the whole of Christianity was bound by this teaching. That same teaching body still exists today in the Magisterium.
In the Gospel reading from John 15, Jesus says, “I have told you this so that my joy might be in you and your joy might be complete.” Joy is a funny thing. It can be difficult to define. It is not the same as happiness, though they are certainly similar. But happiness can be fleeting and superficial. I think that joy goes much deeper than happiness.
It may be impossible to feel happiness in times of great distress, trial or struggles. These are the times that try our very souls. And yet, as we have seen with many of the great spiritual masters down through the ages, we can experience great joy during these times. Because joy is less about us and more about God. Maybe you've heard this acronym for joy: Jesus. Others. You. We can only find true joy when we order our lives properly. And this is the order of joy. Jesus. Others. You.
Father, fill us with your joy as we keep Jesus first, others next and think of ourselves last. May our joy be complete. Amen.