When there is so much suffering and grief, where is Joy? When the journey of life leads us to its inevitable ending of death, where is Joy? The tougher terrains on the journey of life reveals Hope at an early stage that gradually metamorphose into Faith, but Joy is so much more elusive, hidden, taking its time to manifest. “Be patient, brothers, until the Lord’s coming” (Second Reading).
Advent is the period of preparation for the “Lord’s coming”. Christmas introduces this “coming” into our life. Christmas is easy to prepare for. But Advent is more than just Christmas preparations. It is about preparing ourselves towards the inevitable coming of the time when we must meet our Creator. Death is an inevitable crossing we must all make. Advent is preparation with this crossing in mind.
We light the third candle of our Advent wreath, a Christian tradition, symbolising the gift of Joy. The Lord’s coming at Christmas is to accompany us on our journey of life, preparing us for this important crossing ahead. Joy will manifest only when faith matures.
The gift of the Infant Jesus at Christmas is also the gift of the Risen Christ at Easter. Christmas without Easter is hollow. Our journey through life without the presence of God is directionless, joyless. This joy of the Christmas birth leads to a humble death, the crossing that led us into the joy of the Resurrection. Human sadness from suffering and grief will dissipate but Christian joy lingers. Joy is present in our life. We must find ways to uncover this gift.
Death is not the end but a change. Death transits us into eternal life. Life is a journey of personal encounters and revelation of God’s presence in the chapters of our life. Events in our life is constantly speaking to us, inviting us to share in the Resurrection and claim the promise of eternal life. Advent prepares for our mind and heart to open so as to mature our faith and find Joy. Joy is the foretaste of this heaven.
The Christmas crib tells of a humble birth. The teachings of Jesus in centred on humbly serving the other. His crucifixion is a humble death. Humility is key in finding Joy. It begins at Christmas with our humble acceptance of God, to accept Christ as Saviour and Redeemer.
Our God is a humble God. Christmas is one of the most celebrated events in our world, celebrated not only by believers but non-believers too. Today’s sensitive world has even gone on to change and hide the reason for the season. Amongst some people it is not even correct to say, “Merry Christmas” but to use “Happy holidays season”, sensitive to any link to our belief. This is innocent joy, but they are also seeds of faith being scattered.
Out of hollow death, comes our rising. Joy is found in the knowing of, and faith in, the Resurrection and the many encounters of the Risen Christ on our journey of life.
‘Go back and tell John what you hear and see; the blind see again, and the lame walk, lepers are cleansed, and the deaf hear, and the dead are raised to life and the Good News is proclaimed to the poor; and happy is the man who does not lose faith in me.’
3rd Sunday of Advent 2022