“The joy of the Gospel fills the hearts and lives of all who encounter Jesus. With Christ, joy is constantly born anew.”
Pope Francis – Evangeli Gaudium 1
This Sunday December 17th is the third Sunday of the season of Advent and is often styled ‘Gaudete Sunday’. The word Gaudete is simply the Latin word for Rejoice, and the scripture readings of the Lectionary for this Sunday are around that theme of Joy.
Our Advent Wreath candle this Sunday is Pink, rather than the sombre purple of the other Sundays in Advent, it indicates to us already the Joy of the approaching feast.
We are inclined in our culture to equate the Joy of which the scriptures speak with happiness, but they are entirely different things. The modern translation of the Beatitudes uses the phrase ‘How Happy are the poor in spirit…..’ etc, but I am consoled by the scripture scholars who tell us that ‘Blessed are …’ is indeed more faithful to the original text. Happiness as it has been defined by modern culture can be as trivial as ‘A Cigar called Hamlet’, the idea is sentimentalised and trivialised; whereas the joy of which the scriptures speak is rather a deep sense of peace, comfort, stability and blessed assurance, something which not even ‘a cigar called Hamlet’ can ever hold for us.
The truth is that the joy of the Gospel can be in us even when the darkness is all around us, even when we feel anything but happy in a superficial sense. This is the joy worth having.
When we look for Joy in the wrong places it can cost us dearly. We imagine that the new car or the designer handbag or the cruise in the Mediterranean will bring it, but the reality is that we realise soon enough that it is not to be found where we had imagined, and life has taught us that ‘all that glitters is not gold.’
The whole world of business and advertising is built on selling us ‘stuff’ and children particularly are subtly being conditioned to feel deprived if their toys are not the latest featured on the toy show, and their trainers the latest from Nike. Sure, we all want happiness for our children and for ourselves but let’s be certain we’re looking in the right places.
Life is too short for false joy.
Join the four Christian Churches on the Village Green in Lucan at 1.00 pm on Christmas Eve for a reading of the Christmas Gospel with Carols. Whatever Church you identify with be there on Christmas Day because Jesus is the reason for the season.
Blessed in the name of the Lord is He who comes.
Fr. Philip Curran