“Rejoice in the Lord, I say again rejoice”
(Phil 4:4)


“Rejoice in the Lord, I say again rejoice”
(Phil 4:4)

As Christmas draws near, the Church emphasizes the joy which should be in our hearts over all that the birth of our Savior means for us. In fact, the third Sunday of Advent is also known as Gaudete Sunday. The word “gaudete” is derived from the Latin words “Gaudium” meaning “joy” and “gaudeo” meaning “rejoice” or “be glad.” Advent is a time of joyful expectation and eager preparation for the solemnity of Christmas.

There are so many reasons for joy.  First of all, there is joy in looking forward to the annual celebration of Christmas as well as joy in recalling the birth of Jesus (Christmas). We rejoice because he was born to save us. We must rejoice because “The Lord your God is already in your midst” (Zeph 3:17).  So fittingly, today’s first reading from Zephaniah clearly invites the people to shout, sing, be glad and exult. The reason for this rejoicing is their deliverance from enemies.

The joy that Paul advocated is not merely the happiness that comes from enjoyment of life. It is joy in the Lord, joy that is grounded in faith in Jesus Christ.  A joy born of conviction of faith and consciousness of God’s love is a true joy. This kind of joy is possible even to those who may find the Christmas season itself very distressing.  Such a joy is possible even in the most trying of circumstances, even as we contemplate our present world which is threatened by Corona Virus.

It was Paul who encouraged Christians persecuted by all kinds of torture to rejoice in the Lord always: “Rejoice in the Lord, I say again rejoice” (Phil 4:4).  This means that if my joy is rooted in the Lord, I will smile even when I am chasing my best hat down the street on a windy day. Paul calls the believers to live lives of kindness, of gentle forbearance, of willingness to forgo retaliation.

Whatsoever we beg of God, we also must work for joy. Our future will be different if we make our present different. But how? That’s where John the Baptist clearly gives us some guidelines. In response to the question, “What should we do?” John the Baptist challenges the people to carry out their daily responsibilities with concern for others, honesty, and integrity.

The background for this question comes from last Sunday’s reading where John the Baptist said a path must be prepared for the one who brings salvation. We may ask, how can we smooth and straighten our lives into a welcoming highway for the Lord? Today, he tells us that we can make our hearts ready to receive Christ by sharing what we have with those who have nothing. We can welcome Christ by treating others with fairness and respect. In another words, how we behave towards others is a measure of how deeply we have welcomed Christ into our own hearts.

We are all beautiful people, loveable people but we are also vulnerable people especially to selfishness. If in our selfishness we are receiving all the time and not giving, then we will be like the Dead Sea which is dead because it is always receiving and never giving anything out, so the salt content of the water keeps building up.

Joy is also a natural byproduct of a life full of purpose and meaning flowing from having discerned God’s will and vocation for us that utilizes our gifts and talents, and offers us the opportunity to be creative. To make way for joy in the Lord also calls us to surrender ourselves to God in prayer, especially the prayer of gratitude.  By making “way” for joy we are making straight the path of the Lord in our lives.  Therefore, let us cheer up and share a smile with others. One smile in public is worth ten before a mirror – for it keeps joy in circulation.

By Susai Jesu, OMI
Vocation Team – West