A WORD FROM THE PASTOR
Joy is the True Hallmark of Every Christian
Through her ministry in Jesus’ name, St. Teresa of Calcutta (Mother Teresa) brought untold blessings and joy to the poor who lay unattended and forgotten in the streets of several cities in the world. When asked the source of her joy, Mother Teresa replied: “Joy is prayer; joy is strength; joy is love; joy is a net of love. A joyful heart is the normal result of a heart burning with love - loving as he loves, helping as he helps, giving as he gives, serving as he serves, rescuing as he rescues, being with him twenty-four hours, touching him in his distressing disguise.” The theme of the third week of Advent is Joy. One can easily understand the importance of Joy when we read the Bible.
We are constantly invited to rejoice. A few examples will suffice. “Rejoice!” is the angel’s greeting to Mary (Lk 1:28). Mary’s visit to Elizabeth makes John leap for joy in his mother’s womb (Lk 1:41). In her song of praise, Mary proclaims: “My spirit rejoices in God my Savior” (Lk 1:47). When Jesus begins his ministry, John cries out: “For this reason, my joy has been fulfilled” (Jn 3:29). Jesus himself “rejoiced in the Holy Spirit” (Lk 10:21). His message brings us joy: “I have said these things to you, so that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be complete” (Jn 15:11).
Our Christian joy drinks of the wellspring of his brimming heart. He promises his disciples: “You will be sorrowful, but your sorrow will turn into joy” (Jn 16:20). He then goes on to say: “But I will see you again and your hearts will rejoice, and no one will take your joy from you” (Jn 16:22). The disciples “rejoiced” (Jn 20:20) at the sight of the risen Christ.
In the Acts of the Apostles we read that the first Christians “ate their food with glad and generous hearts” (2:46). Wherever the disciples went, “there was great joy” (8:8); even amid persecution they continued to be “filled with joy” (13:52). The newly baptized eunuch “went on his way rejoicing” (8:39), while Paul’s jailer “and his entire household rejoiced that he had become a believer in God” (16:34). The Pope asks, “Why should we not also enter into this great stream of joy?”
To witness joy is the true hallmark of every Christian. It seems to me that many people have lost their joy and search for it in dark places. A neighbor found a man on hands and knees. “What are you searching for?” “My key.” Both men got on their knees to search. After a while the neighbor said to him, “Where did you lose it?” “At home.” “Good Lord! Then why are you searching here?” “Because it’s brighter here!” We must search for better life where we lost it and we lost it where God is! This is the prime reason many are not joyous in their lives. One can experience joy only where God is. Where there is God there is joy and where there is joy there is God. Advent is the best time to experience Joy in our hearts by inviting Our Lord and Savior to fill in our hearts.