An expectant mother is filled with Joy with the new life inside of her as she awaits the birth of her child. In that same way during this Season of Advent we should not only be experiencing the longing for the birth of the Christ child on Christmas but we should be filled with joy just like an expectant mother.
This is the time of year during Advent when we see, hear and experience “the joy of Christmas”. This joy is experienced in Christmas Carols, family gatherings, and in the overall spirit of giving. Last week I wrote about Advent as a time of reflection on the fulfillment of the past promises of God and the longing for the fulfillment of the second coming of Christ. Today, rather than focusing on the past or the future, I want to focus on the present.
I think most everyone is familiar with the song Joyful, Joyful, We Adore Thee written in 1907 by Henry J. van Dyke, to the tune of Hymn to Joy composed by Ludwig van Beethoven. This was based on Psalm 71:23 “My lips will shout for joy as I sing your praise“.
Joyful, joyful, we adore Thee,
God of glory, Lord of love;
Hearts unfold like flow’rs before Thee,
Op’ning to the sun above.
Melt the clouds of sin and sadness;
Drive the dark of doubt away;
Giver of immortal gladness,
Fill us with the light of day!
My question for us all today is how do we keep the joy of Advent and Christmas alive in us the rest of the year? It is important to distinguish that there is a difference between happiness and joy. Too often in our modern culture we pursue individual happiness. Real joy in life comes about when we align our wills to the will of God. This type of Joy can fill our soul even during times of trials, sickness, grief and other difficulties in life. The type of joy I am referring to fills our hearts when we love like Jesus loved and we serve others as Jesus did.
Over the past two years I have really been blessed to get to know and become friends with one of the priests who serve my parish. His name is Namdev Dagam. Fr. Namdev came to our parish from India. I am not sure if I have ever known anyone who has a more infectious smile and who exudes joy more than he does. He is the type of person you just want to be around and it does not take long when you are around him to know that his sense of joy comes from his love of our Lord Jesus Christ. He seems to always have pep in his step and a big smile on his face. Sadly I have just learned that Fr. Namdev will be going back to India at the end of this year to teach in the seminary there. I know I had to wipe away a few tears when this announcement was made to our congregation and I think everyone else had to do the same thing.
My friends how do you and I become more like Fr. Namdev? How do we become the type of person about who others would say: “he or she exudes the love of Jesus Christ?” Do others say that about you now? If not what needs to change so that they would begin to say that?
Christmas is the time for celebrating the birth of the Christ child. Can we make this Advent Season the time that we remind ourselves that the same Jesus who was born in a manger in Bethlehem has also been born anew in each of us? He dwells within us and is the reason for celebration and joy every day of the year. Two thousand years ago Jesus came for all of us. He still comes for each of us every day.
Just as the Virgin Mary was filled with joy by knowing the savior of the world was alive inside of her, let us too be filled with this same joy because He is alive in us as well. My prayer is that God would allow me to be an infectious source of joy to everyone I meet and I pray that the same is true for each of you as well.
Maranatha, come Lord Jesus come!