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JOYFUL IN OUR HOPE. A reflection for the 3rd Sunday of Advent 2020
By Fr. Modestus Mgbaramuko
Tue, 15 Dec 2020

Readings: Is 61:1-2, 10-11; 1Thes 5:16-24; Jn 1:6-8,19-28

       Everyone is touched in the mire of new travel restrictions and safety updates that keep the pandemic in view. Governments must keep the safety steps in place. However, there is more to the present times than we imagine. We cannot end with the worries. Beyond the anxieties of the time, we still have the excitement of Advent. As Christians, we are always joyful in what God is doing even amidst the pandemic.

   The Advent hope cannot cease to be healthy and joyful. The Advent joy is founded on a deep awareness of the person, birth, life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ. A Joyful Advent also builds on a clear sense of the Holy Spirit’s presence and witness. There is something new and surprising each time the Spirit of God is upon us (Is 61:1). All those who dialogue with God through faith continue to exhibit the joy of the Spirit, which challenges in the world cannot take away. We have to lead the conversation, especially in times like this. It is the reason for the third week of Advent: “Gaudete,” i.e., the “rejoicing”  Sunday!

   The Spirit of the Lord is given to us to bind our broken hearts. This spirit overrides the current gloom and sadness to proclaim the good news of joy. The entire reality of Christmas memorial and renewal stems from what the herald angels eventually announce to us in the coming weeks. Beyond every flu, virus, or pandemic comes the amazing news: “I bring you “tidings of great joy,” the angels will proclaim. It is still the joy shared as received. Therefore, we converse better with one another by manifesting the joy of our enviable possession in Christ. “I exult for joy in the Lord” and again, “My soul rejoices in my God.”

    Even now,  the charge to us is to “Rejoice in the Lord always,” and for all things give thanks (1Thess 5:16). Christian joy is different from mere pleasure. Joy is not just within our power in the way that pleasure is. Like a flag mounted above the building and continually flagging to the breath of the wind, so does the captivating joy of the Christian life radiate from the castle of all hearts, where Christ finds a home. Pure joy remains a sign of our eagerness and openness to look beyond our pains to the gains of knowing Christ. Joy is hoping on Christ and also living joyfully that our hope does not fail us.

     Without the attitude of joy, we rob ourselves of the gladness put forward for us at Christmas. No matter how many Advents we encounter or Christmasses we have celebrated, each year brings new joy for Christmas. Such a gladness, which the present pandemic does not know about, and the world can never take away from us, encourages us from John’s witness. John is the man sent by God as a friend of God’s incarnate Word. He is a joyful witness and the “friend of the bridegroom.” (Jn 3:29). In his joy of witnessing to Christ, John also invites us to be joyful. Answering the queries to him, John the Baptist repeatedly reveals the godly happiness in his life as the attitude proper to every believer in Christ.

     To open our hearts and minds afresh to Christ’s coming presence this Christmas, we all must renew our lives from the preachings of John. Real joy rejoices in what is right, salutary, and beautiful, not only in one’s eyes but in the eyes of God too. The holy gladness first breaks the heart in repentance and conversion to rebuild it with the grace of God. For this reason John offers the baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins in readiness to Christ.

  A new life and a new way of living are available in Jesus. It helps us to rise beyond every pain and move to Christ at Christmas. Above all, the joy of reconciliation makes Christ stand amongst us, not “unknown” or lost in holiday decorations or mere shows at Christmas.


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