Today’s, Tuesday of the Third Week of Advent, daily Psalm was from the 34 Psalm.
I will bless the LORD at all times; his praise shall be ever in my mouth. Let my soul glory in the LORD; the lowly will hear me and be glad. Look to him that you may be radiant with joy, and your faces may not blush with shame.
The theme for this third week of Advent is one of Joy and rejoicing that started on Gaudette Sunday. While this is a wonderful liturgical reminder of the Joy we should have in our hearts for the eventual return of Jesus I realize that during this time of darkness, cold, pandemic, and stress it can be hard to have a joyous heart. Yesterday the Henri Nouwen society had a wonderful reflection on the nature of Joy.
Joy does not come from positive predictions about the state of the world. It does not depend on the ups and downs of the circumstances of our lives. Joy is based on the spiritual knowledge that, while the world in which we live is shrouded in darkness, God has overcome the world. Jesus says it loudly and clearly: “In the world you will have troubles, but rejoice, I have overcome the world.”
The surprise is not that, unexpectedly, things turn out better than expected. No, the real surprise is that God’s light is more real than all the darkness, that God’s truth is more powerful than all human lies, that God’s love is stronger than death.
This reflection really hit home. It was a nice reminder to me that a deep Joy does not come from what the world can provide us, but finds its basis on the faith and hope we have in God’s truth found in Jesus Christ. Our celebration of Advent and Christmas is based on the simple truth that in the incarnation of Jesus, God has overcome the world and brought light into the darkness. My favorite Christmas Gospel reading is the reading for Christmas Day that comes from the beginning of John’s Gospel.
In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things came to be through him, and without him nothing came to be. What came to be through him was life, and this life was the light of the human race; the light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it. John 1:1-5
These first five lines of John’s Gospel really portray the reality of the Incarnation of God we find in the birth of Jesus and gives us the hope to prayerfully wait for the second coming of Jesus and the establishment of God’s Kingdom. What greater Joy do we need?
In his Sunday Angelus last Sunday (December 13) Pope Francis said: “This is the first condition of Christian joy: to decentralize from oneself and place Jesus at the center. … This is joy: directing toward Jesus. And joy must be the characteristic of our faith. And in dark moments, that inner joy, of knowing that the Lord is with me, that the Lord is with us, that the Lord is Risen. The Lord! The Lord! The Lord! This is the center of our life, and this is the center of our joy.”
Peace, Love, and Blessings