Sunday, December 13, 2009

Be Joyful!

1. Your kindness should be known to all (Philippians 4:5). Traditionally, this Sunday is known as Gaudate Sunday, that is Rejoice Sunday, because Advent is halfway over and Christmas is almost here. To remind ourselves to rejoice, we light the pink candle and the priests wear rose colored vestments. For those who do not know Christ, or for those who might know of Him but do not know His Body the Church, we Catholics are often accused of being a dour and depressed bunch of people. I believe it is largely because we advocate fasting and going to Confession and doing penances and carrying our Cross. Of course on the other hand we are also often accused of partying too much with our general approval of dancing and permitting people to drink responsibly etc…
2. Anyway, even sometimes Catholics themselves look upon our relationship with God as something which is somber or scary or depressing or at least not filled with joy. Maybe it is our fear or misunderstanding of the Sacrament of Penance (that is Confession). We often fear Confession as if it is a moment of condemnation. When in reality it is a moment of liberation and forgiveness. Even the Bible speaks of these somber feelings. In the book of Job, Job begged God to leave Him alone. There are times when people are afraid to pray hoping that God will forget about them and leave them alone.
3. I never had that feeling, but a long time ago I convinced myself that the only way to do God’s will was to accept disasters in my life (which is true in a way). But I became unable to pray for anything good to happen. And worse, I began to expect the worst all the time, as if that was the only way God would treat me. I had to learn that I was God’s son. All of us are His beloved Children. To be God’s child is not to get everything that we want. Our desires are not always what is best for us, or best for the plan of salvation. Still, the Lord desires us to be filled with joy.
4. In John's Gospel, we read: As the Father loves me, so I also love you. Remain in my love. If you keep my commandments, you will remain in my love, just as I have kept my Father's commandments and remain in his love. "I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and your joy may be complete (John 15:9-11). That is what we believe as Catholics- Jesus greatly desires our joy to be complete. But it will not be complete until we know and love Him the way He loves us.
5. The joy of remaining in the love of Christ is expressed in imitating His love. Saint Paul said Your kindness should be known to all. That is, to express our joy in the Lord through kindness to others. This manner of rejoicing is actually natural to us in areas that we would not necessarily define as “religion.” Many people mark the engagement to marry of themselves or their children with gift giving or the renewal of family relationships so that others could share their joy. Or when you get your first job and in your joy look for ways that you can be generous to those who supported you in school. For some, when their team wins a game, they are joyful and generous as well.
6. Those are but a few examples. John the Baptist gives others. For example, treating people fairly, sharing your goods with those in need, or simply being satisfied with your pay. These actions are expressions of contentment and trust. If we really believe that God is the creator of all things, and that He has the power to provide for everyone, and that the Lord is a loving God, then why shouldn’t we be content? If we know that God has prepared a place in His home for us, why shouldn’t we trust? If we claim that God is kind and merciful, what should stop us from sharing that kindness and mercy to others? If Jesus is the One whom we love above all other people and things, we have every reason to be joyful, for His birthday is almost here.


Kelly said...

Glad to see you back blogging :)

Bria said...

Yay! You're back!

Lynette said...

Amen Father Joseph!
Joyful Catholics will certainly bring more people to Christ.