Certainly a theme during this season is joy and gladness. Office parties, family gatherings, school shows, decorating all bring a certain happiness in our lives. However, there is another reason, a greater reason, why we are to be filled with joy and gladness.
In the midst of sadness and distress, anxiety and worry, pain and suffering and all of the realities of our lives, Advent helps us to realize that God is with us - He is Emmanuel; and joy in our hearts is the best sign to acknowledge His presence.
In other words, the His presence is the cause of our joy. Zephaniah urges the people to rejoice because “the Lord… is in your midst.” And Paul tells the Philippians he wants them to be happy, because “the Lord is very near.” The joy that this world cannot give is the joy that comes from believing our closeness with God and the certainty of his love for you and me. This joy, with all its laughter and smiles, can only become a reality when Christ resides in our hearts.
Now here is the really Good News - that we can still rejoice (gaudate), and shout for joy, and be glad even while fulfilling our responsibilities as Christians. Our world may say otherwise, but the message for us is that our joy will be complete when we turn away from sin and turn towards Christ especially in following His commandment of loving God and loving one another.
In general, being kind and generous, sharing our resources with others, showing concern for others and being just and merciful in all our dealings with others will in fact make us happy.
But only when those actions coincide with our faith that says God is indeed in with us. Therefore, cannot but sing and shout for joy, giving praise and declaring the greatness of God's Holy name.
Our Second Weeks of Advent invites us to look at Saint John the Baptist. Saint John fore runs the coming of Jesus. As the prophets foretold, John now reminds the people that God always keeps His promises, as the long-awaited Messiah is here. John's words always arouses the people especially as he speaks of the baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins.The Baptist’s words, “prepare the way for the Lord, make his paths straight.” Saint John tells us that there is a duty and a responsibility for each and every one of us, both as a community and individually. As we await the Savior’s arrival, we must ready the pathway for the Lord; leveling the rough edges and smoothening the bumpy grounds.
Ultimately we are invites to look at our own lives and realize the way of the Lord require straightening as we strive to follow HIM.
Our lives have been not always been a straight path to God by our crookedness, malice, and vice. We have made the pathway rough by sins, selfishness and pride. Our pathways to God as not been straight with anger, bitterness, unforgivingness, intolerance and resentments. Our pathway has been made rough with our unconcerned and indifferent attitude towards the sufferings and those in need?
It is not the Lord’s way that needs straightening, but ours. If we are truly preparing for the joyful expectant coming of Jesus, then we must listen to John’s call to repent from all sins that make our hearts a bumpy and rough path for the Lord. When we do as John tells us and make straight our path to God, we shall shout joy in gladness, as the Lord works marvels for and in us by making our pathway straight.
The season of Advent resonates the mood of anticipation and preparation. The season of Advent can be separated into two part. First is Christmas, during which the first coming of Christ is recalled in joyful festivities. Second is the ultimate event of Christ’s second coming in power and glory. While we prepare for the coming of the Baby Jesus, our attention is drawn equally to when we all meet Christ when our earthly pilgrimage comes to an end.
Advent reminds us that we have a God who fulfills promise. The prophet Jeremiah is fulfilled when he says, a Messiah shall spring forth from the stock of David. He shall be our Prince of peace and his reign over our world shall be characterized by wisdom, love, justice and integrity. This is Jesus!
This Jesus will come again. When we speak of His second coming, it is not aimed to bring panic, rather it is an invitation for watchfulness and vigilance. His coming in power and glory shall be to secure our liberation and exaltation. Thus, we must stand erect, heads high, in confident anticipation and prayerful alertness as we await our Master’s glorious return.
At this moment we live between the two comings of Christ. For this reason we must make it our obligation to make the presence of Christ felt in our world. We must make the world a better place through our little words and deeds of kindness and service.
Our watchful anticipation and preparation of Christ’s coming is done by the love we show for one another. This Advent, let us be witnesses to peace amidst conflicts; hope amidst despair; loving concern amidst indifference and life amidst the culture of death.