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JOYFUL IN HOPE. A reflection for 3rd Sun. of Advent
By Fr. Modestus Mgbaramuko
Sat, 16 Dec 2017

Imagine that you came to the Airport to await the arrival of a dear friend, spouse or family. Recall the feeling you had when the touchdown of the anticipated flight was sounded across the speakers in the arrival lounge. Your joy at that time did become so palpable; it blossomed into visible, rejoicing excitements! We are having that kind of excitement this Sunday! It is the third Sunday of Advent; and it is our ‘gladness’ or ‘rejoicing’ (‘Gaudete’) Sunday. All of today’s readings alert us to the fact that, we are more than halfway through to the angelic joys of Christmas.

Notwithstanding how many beautiful Advents or Christmases that we have enjoyed or missed, each year still brings us Christmas fresh and new. And, through each Advent season the Church tasks her many Children to make the memory of Christ’s birth at Christmas awesome. The call is to share the joy of being renewed; and spill the blessings of God’s favour onto the threshold of the new, civic year ahead.

From his invitation urging us to enter a ‘baptism of repentance’ last Sunday, John the Baptist exhorts us even now, to embrace the Christ in our midst; and to ‘make a straight way for the Lord’. By ‘declaring openly’ that, “I am not the Christ (Jn1:20)”; John’s witness challenges us to find the true Christ afresh this Christmas, and to stay with him. Many chaff Christmases are around the corner so, choose your own.

The environment of South-Eastern Nigeria has our thoughts impacted at various levels from today’s call by John. The different Interstate and federal ‘Highways’ are united in the single story that they tell us. From these roads, we hear the words, ‘You cannot travel from here to there!’ If you are in Umuahia for example, getting to Arochukwu is your worst nightmare. And if you are resident in Port Harcourt, intending to visit your parents at Enugu by road this season, then very likely you may remain on the road until Christmas has come and gone! In these parts of our country, ‘making the way of the Lord straight’ can really mix our happiness with frustration; and tinge our joyful Christmas with regrets and sadness.

Yet, thanks to God in Christ, whose Advent to us renews us. His presence in us is our resilience. Through Christ, the man like us in all things but sin, the Spirit of God upon him makes our hopes ever joyful. And this joyful hope in us remains intact amidst the pains, degradations and deprivations. Let our federal government continue in her game of suppression. Let them blame the state governors who blame the senators who blames the contractors, who blame the unreleased funds! Our hearts will be stayed on Christ this season, since Christ alone is our reason for gladness and rejoicing in this blessed but misgoverned fatherland.

The saying of our elders is true; that ‘if a man says yes, his chi also affirms’. This witness was borne ages before the advent of our Christian truth. And still today Scripture confirms such living faith in our Advent hopes: Onye kwe, Chi ya ekwe! Inspired by such great example of endurance, we must live this blessed season of Advent and its nearby Christmas in such ways that we can truly hymn it in our hearts: “I exult for joy in the Lord, my soul rejoices in my God, for he has clothed me in the garments of salvation, and wrapped me in the cloak of righteousness”.

May this joyful witness of our faith in Jesus rebrand us. And, may it not be mentioned about us this Christmas, that which John the Baptist pointed out in the people of his day: “But there stands among you – unknown to you – the one who is coming after me… (Jn1:26)”.

 

 

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