Over at Patheos, Pat Gohn, has a post on the significance of the Third Sunday in Advent, The Pink Candle and Other Musings.
“This Third Sunday, the Church is harkening to its good news: the Word is made flesh in Jesus, and the Kingdom of Heaven is born in our midst.
The imagery in Sunday’s First Reading from Isaiah, recorded centuries before the first coming Christ, hints at this coming joy.
The desert and the parched land will exult; the steppe will rejoice and bloom.
They will bloom with abundant flowers, and rejoice with joyful song. The glory of Lebanon will be given to them, the splendor of Carmel and Sharon; they will see the glory of the LORD, the splendor of our God . . .
Here is your God, he comes with vindication; with divine recompense he comes to save you . . .
Those whom the LORD has ransomed will return and enter Zion singing, crowned with everlasting joy; they will meet with joy and gladness, sorrow and mourning will flee (Is. 35:1-2, 4, 10).
As always, there is much to meditate on, but the simple phrase that captures my attention as we come to this Sunday with joy is that once-and-future hope that the prophet gives about one day coming back to our true homeland, “crowned with everlasting glory.”
And I wonder if we could envision ourselves on that special Day, would we live any differently than we do now?
After all, rejoicing, as a verb, means it is something that we do.
Why? Because it is something that we Christians are: Joyful.
Or, are we still works in progress in the joy department?”
Me? Definitely a work in progress. I am a very unfinished Christian. But I do think that I am doing better in the joy department.
But the credit for my progress goes to the Holy Spirit. A few years ago, I was completely stressed out. We had and have ongoing financial problems stemming from the year that my husband was out of work and his slow climb back up the managerial ranks.
Everything seemed to be going from bad to worse. Then one Sunday at Mass the words of the prayer after the Lord’s prayer hit me hard,
In your mercy keep us free from sin and protect us from all anxiety as we wait in joyful hope for the coming of our Savior, Jesus Christ.
That was my Eureka moment. An epiphany.
I realized then that the stress and anxiety that I was feeling were symptoms. They were symptoms that I was not really trusting God.
Real Christians trust God especially in the bad times. Real Christians reflect joy, because a real Christian knows that all things work for good for those who love God (Rom. 8:28).
As Christians we are called to witness. We are called to bear our suffering with joy and hope. There is no such thing as a fair weather Christian.
This often seems impossible. But we know in our hearts that it is possible. We have the Saints as our example; the great cloud of witnesses that have gone before us.
As Pat Gohn writes,
“Know anyone with complete joy? Those who come to mind, for me, are the saints. The saints started with the same raw materials we did. Yet, we witness their joie de vivre even when imperiled by trial, illness, the devil, or death. Joy seems a natural byproduct of sanctity, a natural “fruit” of the Spirit (Gal. 5:22). And its presence can even be impervious and independent of circumstances . . . Rejoice in the Lord always.”
H/T The Anchoress.