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What brings you joy?

A grandmother was filled with joy because she was receiving a first-time visit from her daughter and her three children. Her grandchildren were 2, 5, and 7 years old. The grandmother was so delighted that she thanked God by putting an extra $20 in the Sunday collection. Three weeks later her daughter and grandchildren had to return home. The grandmother was so overjoyed that she put an extra $100 in the collection the following Sunday!

The fact of the matter is that it is the arrival of persons that we love that can bring us the greatest joy. For all Christian believers, it is the arrival of Jesus the Lord that brings the most profound joy. And, this Third Sunday of Advent, is the traditional day in which St. Paul not only speaks of joy, but he commands it. “Rejoice in the Lord always. I shall say it again, Rejoice! The Lord is near.”

Like Mary, true joy is always found in the Lord. She says, “My soul rejoices in God my Savior.” Such Christian joy is not meant to be an occasional thing, but a delight that permeates each one of us every day and always. All the saints knew this. St. Francis, known as the ‘saint of joy’ would chide his friars went they went around with long, sad faces. He thought there was something spiritually wrong with them. St. Clare, his fellow citizen of Assisi, would warn her sisters to beware of melancholy; “it is the poison of the soul.” And St. Augustine would say that “the Christian sings ‘alleluia’ even in the dark.”

But such joy is no foolish or trivial virtue. It is the consequence of a deep-seated faith and personal knowledge of Jesus. It is elation the comes when we are aware that God is there in our lives and loves us no matter what. As a result of such joyful awareness, the follower of Jesus makes every effort to please God by a right and just way of living.

So, in the Gospel passage of this day, John the Baptist tells people how they must act to prepare for the coming of Jesus. To the crowds, He says: “Share what you have with those who have none—your clothes and your food.” He told the tax collectors to be honest in their business practices and he admonished soldiers to be truthful in their words and dealings with others. The moral is that when we practice the virtues of mercy, honesty, and justice we bring joy not only to other people but to God Himself.

As we draw near to the Feast of the Birth of the Savior who is always near to us, God invites us to enter into the joy He feels for us and to find comfort and contentment in the knowledge that He is always “there for us.” But He also invites us to consider the ways in which we can “be there” for others.

  • Is there some family member or friend who needs to hear from you to know your care, forgiveness or love?
  • Will you share your food with the hungry or your clothes with the poor in this season of giving?
  • Are there persons who need your prayers or encouragement?

These and many other corporal and spiritual acts of mercy are ways in which you can share with others your joy at the coming of the Lord.

If we share our joy in Christ this Advent and throughout our time on earth, then the Lord Jesus will share His and the Father’s joy with us now at Christmas and forever in heaven.

Father Kirlin