How can we be happy? This seems like the question that has echoed through the ages. Everybody wants to be happy and wants to find the key to peace. Often we turn to worldly things for this happiness because we are given a glimpse of happiness when we receive material things. We turn to money, status, food, relationships, whatever we can in order to feel happiness for just a few moments.

But in the Gospels we hear Jesus talk about joy instead of happiness. He says, “I have told you this so that my joy might be in you and your joy might be complete.”

So Jesus doesn’t seem super occupied with happiness, but instead with joy. What is the difference? I think if we truly look at it, happiness is an emotion that can come and go, but joy is a virtue that stays. What do I mean? Think of some of the martyrs who were joyful even during their death because they knew where they were going. They were able to live the virtue of joy even in the most “unhappy” of times. They did not let the world affect their virtue.

So we really should be asking how can we always have joy? The answer, of course, is given to us in the Gospel. We ask Jesus for it. He has perfect joy and wants to share it with us. He wants to give us this virtue that lasts even when it seems that we should be unhappy or broken or hurt or suffering.

Do we know this Jesus who wants to give us this joy? Ask yourself that question personally. Have you met this Jesus who wants to take your yoke and make it easier, who wants to give you joy beyond your imagination, who wants to bring you peace and love? I think we want to believe that Jesus is that person or we easily believe he does that for others, but do we pray to know this Jesus who wants to bring us joy?