Love Rejoices with Others

In his famous discourse on love, St. Paul says that love “does not rejoice at wrong, but rejoices in the right” (1 Corinthians 13:6). Pope Francis comments on this:

The expression chaírei epì te adikía has to do with a negativity lurking deep within a person’s heart. It is the toxic attitude of those who rejoice at seeing an injustice done to others… [Rejoicing in the good of others] is impossible for those who must always be comparing and competing, even with their spouse, so that they secretly rejoice in their failures. (Amoris Lætitia 109).

The world today seems to be filled with this toxic negativity, whether in politics, the business world, sports, or even in marriage and the family. It is this toxic competitive attitude that makes it impossible to congratulate the success and good works of others because somehow it implies that we have somehow failed. We tend to wish evil upon our opponents and rejoice over their demise, downfall, or injury because then we can prevail over them and come out on top. Or we simply gloat over the fact that others share our misery—misery loves company!

Negativity only breeds negativity and division, whereas love and mercy unite people and foster peace, moving us to rejoice in the good that others do and to view their success as our own. Even if they belong to the opposite team, we can congratulate them for making a good play or good shot because it is the fruit of their hard work.

True love for another person unites us to them and helps us view their success and good works as our own. We feel as though we are part of the same winning team working for the same goal. This is most especially true in marriage and family where we need to learn to rejoice in the good that a spouse or sibling has done and thus acknowledge their dignity and value as a person. As Pope Francis says:

Sygchaírei te aletheía: “[love] rejoices in the right.” In other words, we rejoice at the good of others when we see their dignity and value their abilities and good works… When a loving person can do good for others, or sees that others are happy, they themselves live happily and in this way give glory to God, for “God loves a cheerful giver” (2 Cor 9:7). Our Lord especially appreciates those who find joy in the happiness of others. If we fail to learn how to rejoice in the well-being of others, and focus primarily on our own needs, we condemn ourselves to a joyless existence, for, as Jesus said, “it is more blessed to give than to receive” (Acts 20:35). The family must always be a place where, when something good happens to one of its members, they know that others will be there to celebrate it with them (Amoris Lætitia 109-10).

So, rejoicing in the success and happiness of others unites and fosters peace; it makes us peacemakers as we look to Jesus Christ:

Standing firm in the Lord, the Rock, we can sing: “In peace I will both lie down and sleep; for you alone, O Lord, make me dwell in safety” (Ps 4:8). Christ, in a word, “is our peace” (Eph 2:14); he came “to guide our feet into the way of peace” (Luke 1:79). As he told Saint Faustina Kowalska, “Mankind will not have peace until it turns with trust to my mercy.” So let us not fall into the temptation of looking for security in success, vain pleasures, possessions, power over others or social status. Jesus says: “My peace I give to you; I do not give it to you as the world gives peace” (Jn 14:27) (Gaudete et Exsultate 116; see Diary. Divine Mercy in My Soul, Stockbridge, 2000, p. 139 (300)).

Father John Waiss is the pastor of St. Mary of the Angels Church in Chicago, Illinois. He is also a member of Opus Dei, the prelature founded by St. Josemaria Escriva.