Theme: SOURCE OF OUR JOY
By: Fr. Gerald M. Musa
Homily for Sunday December 12 2021
A child asked the grandmother, “How do you feel?” The grand mum answered, “I feel joyful.” The grandchild then said to the grand mum, “If you feel joyful, then why don’t you tell your face!” The child must have observed that what the grand mum was saying with her lips was not reflected on her face. The Christmas season is a season of joy and that is the reason why we wish everyone a merry or joyful Christmas. The third Sunday of Advent (Christmas preparation) is known as Gaudete Sunday. This Sunday signals the joy of Christmas and one of the scriptural readings of the day captures the mood of the Sunday with the following words: “Rejoice in the Lord always; again, I say, rejoice” (Philippians 4:4). These words are translated from the Greek version of the Bible: Haírete en kyrío pántote: Pálin eró, haírete (and in the Latin version translated as Gaudete in Domino semper: iterum dico, gaudete).
The Prophet Zephaniah tells us why we should rejoice. He says rejoice because, “The LORD, your God, is in your midst, a mighty saviour; he will rejoice over you with gladness, and renew you in his love, he will sing joyfully because of you, as one sings at festivals” (3:17). This prophet paints the picture of God as a joyful being who rejoices over his beloved children and who sings, dances for them, and cheers them up. This picture of God is contrary to the notion that many people hold of God. Some people continue to see a one-sided image of God as one who is deadly serious and as a law enforcement officer who holds a stick in hand to smack those who go astray. The words of the prophet Zephaniah make us see God with the eyes of Sydney Bertram Carter who sings about God as Lord of the Dance. Carter’s song describes God as the creator and the redeemer who came to the world. The words of Scripture help us to see God, as he truly is – a joyful and joy-giving being. This is to say that God is a joyful spirit and those who come close to him enjoy a share of joy in the spirit.
The words of Paul to the Philippians depict the Christian life as a joyful and not a gloomy life. Joy is a gift, which we cannot buy or obtain from the world. It is a special gift of the Holy Spirit (Galatians 5:22). Dwight L. Moody differentiates between happiness and joy. Moody says “Happiness is caused by things that happen around me, and circumstances will mar it, but joy flows right on through trouble; joy flows on through the dark; joy flows in the night as well as in the day; joy flows all through persecution and opposition. It is an unceasing fountain bubbling up in the heart; a secret spring the world can’t see and doesn’t know anything about. The Lord gives His people perpetual joy when they walk in obedience to Him.”
After John the Baptist preached to the crowd, they were so touched that they began to ask, “What should we do?” This salient question is indicative of deep yearning for a roadmap to a joy-filled life, which they had lost. John said to them in reply,
“Whoever has two cloaks
should share with the person who has none.
And whoever has food should do likewise.”
Even tax collectors came to be baptized and they said to him,
“Teacher, what should we do?”
He answered them,
“Stop collecting more than what is prescribed.”
Soldiers also asked him,
“And what is it that we should do?”
He told them,
“Do not practice extortion,
do not falsely accuse anyone,
and be satisfied with your wages.”
The response of John the Baptist tells us that doing the right thing is a way of sustaining the joy that is in each of us.
Finally, we must not allow the challenges and difficulties of life to take away the precious gift of joy, which God has poured into our hearts. Mother Teresa reminds us that “Joy is prayer – Joy is strength – Joy is love – Joy is a net of love by which you can catch souls. …She gives most who gives with joy. The best way to show our gratitude to God and the people is to accept everything with joy. A joyful heart is the inevitable result of a heart burning with love. Never let anything so fill you with sorrow as to make you forget the joy of the risen Christ.”
Christmas is a special season to share joy, peace and love. Wherever there is joy, there is God, because joy is a sign of God’s presence.
Zephaniah 3:14-18; Philippians 4:4-7; Luke 3:10-18