This is Goudete Sunday and we light a pink candle to show our joy in the lord. “Joy and gladness will go with them and sorrow and lament be ended”, the first reading says. Paul tells us not to lose heart for the Lord is coming and Christ tells us that they’re happy who do not lose faith in Him. In that spirit lets call to mind any ways we fail to be Christ’s joy to our world.
The great joy in life is to be close to someone we love. I saw on TV a few weeks ago teenage girls at a boyband signing. One of the girls was in tears: “O my God! I can’t believe I’m close to him!”, she said, “he actually spoke to me!”. I laughed that a pop idol could evoke such emotional adoration and ecstasy. It seemed out of proportion. Then I thought, no! We all need to have someone larger than life in our hearts and imaginations, to love, worship and look up to. Of course this is but a pale image of the true object of our devotion, God. He brings us most joy.
That’s what we celebrate this Gaudete Sunday. The lord is near, so we experience joy like that of our teenager. St.Paul says: “do not lose heart for the Lord’s coming will be soon”. Already we’ve the joy of Christ with us in Word and communion. Lets pray that he’ll come closer to us at Christmas, stay with us for the new year, and never lets us down until He takes us home at last. But reflecting further on advent and Christmas joy, I thought curiously of Christ’s passion. We don’t usually think of the passion as joyful. But watching scenes from Gibson’s film brought home to me the extent of Christ’s love, and I made a link with his birth. There was joy in Christ’s heart, though born in a cold stable. For true happiness is more than skin deep, more than facile satisfaction. Its freedom to achieve our aims and enjoy our life at the deepest level. And that’s difficult without self-giving love of God and others. There’s no happiness without loving and being loved. And we mustn’t equate love with sex alone. Its important, but its more satisfying and enduring when built on personal love. We tire of pleasures, but never of love. And finally only the love of God fulfils our deep inner dreams.
Like the girls at Westlife, we seek someone to adore. In God’s presence we find lasting joy here and for eternity: “eye has not seen nor ear heard nor has it entered into the heart of man what good things God has prepared for those who love him”, Paul says. Isaiah says the same to the people; “shout for joy, the Lord is in your midst”. We are united with Christ in communion and he is with us at Christmas, throughout the year and always. So as the second reading says our Christian joy is timeless. Like that girl close to her idol, overcome and crying, that joy overflows at this time of year, for Christ is close, is with us in the flesh.
Our Christmas blaze of lights, feasting, peace on earth, good will is because the Lord is near. Lets make no apology for extravagant celebrating of his birthday. For as our scripture says, his love drives out all fear and transcends even pain and the dreariness of winter. For its joy is deeper than anything the world can give. Rejoice, Paul says, because God guards your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus our Lord. Certainly all else palls but He’s lord of beauty, truth, goodness, peace and salvation for happiness in this world and forever and ever, amen. So as the people of God gathered in expectation of the lords imminent coming in this happiest of seasons, we make our profession of faith, in the joy of Christ’s timeless love..
Prayers of the faithful
Let not your hearts be troubled for the Lord is near. Christians, natural optimists, we make our prayers for the things that we need, material and spiritual, with eternal hope in our hearts.
For our Holy Father and all church leaders, that joy and confidence in the lord may always inspire their witness; may they promote good standards of living and spiritual riches for all.
For civil leaders that by their wise rule they may bring joy into all their people’s lives this Christmas and new year.
For youth that this advent they may find time for the lord in their lives and so experience a joy the world cannot give.
For our own personal happiness in our homes and communities, may we have plenty of everything: enjoyment of life’s pleasures, love given and returned, and God’s grace in our souls this Advent.
For the sick and needy in our midst this advent and Christmas that finding time for them may be part of our renewed prayer, penance and generous giving in the spirit of our birthday Lord…
For our dead especially those who have died recently….that they may enjoy ultimate enjoyment and happiness in the presence of the Lord and their loved ones who went before them in faith.
And we ask all these things through Christ the salvation of the world and our loving lord, through him may we enjoy a full life in this world and our soul’s happiness forever and ever, amen.
“Rejoice in the Lord always”, scripture says. Certainly, and especially this time of year, there’s no value in long faces. The smile is the key to life and its full enjoyment in body and soul. It brings riches and joy to those around us also. So lets smile this week and always, even if sometimes through tears. For God guards our hearts and minds in Christ Jesus our Lord, and Mary is our mother of care, love and grace forever. We pray to her for smiling faces and hearts to light up the world around us this advent, Christmas time and throughout the new year..Hail Mar