Third Sunday in Advent 11 December 2011
How to keep the joy alive!
I am overwhelmed with joy in the LORD my God! For he has dressed me with the clothing of salvation and draped me in a robe of righteousness. I am like a bridegroom in his wedding suit or a bride with her jewels. Isaiah 61:10
A beautiful bride or a handsome groom on their wedding day receive a gift of overwhelming joy from God. How to keep that joy and love alive as the vows say for better, for worse; for richer, for poorer; in sickness and health until we are parted by death remains for many an elusive mystery – hard to hold onto as a slippery bar of soap. The same could sometimes be said of our new life in Christ. We wonder where the joy of our salvation has gone – especially as the days grow shorter and darker -- many of us are sowing in tears as the Psalm says even on this third Sunday in Advent that calls us to rejoice always! Despite the inherent difficulties God not only desires but enables us to keep the joy of believing alive.
1. Keep the joy of believing alive by the gift of prayer and thanksgiving
a. Receive the gift as a holy habit, not based on feelings
b. Receive the gift in the church – psalms, hymns, canticles.
e.g. O Magnum Mysterium: O great mystery and wonderful sacrament: that animals see the infant Lord lying in a manger. Blessed is the virgin whose womb was worthy to carry the Lord Christ. Alleluia!
2. Keep the joy of believing alive by the gift of testing and holding fast.
a. False prophets and deceiving spirits can steal our joy
b. All believers need to examine all things with great care – even the Bereans did not blindly accept the preaching the holy apostle Paul, but searched the Scriptures daily to find out whether these things were so.
3. Keep the joy of believing alive by the gift of abstaining from every form of evil.
a. Forsaking all others, remain united to him/her alone, so long as you both shall live? What amazing freedom, to treat all others as sisters and brothers! Don’t even think about unfaithfulness to Christ!
b. “He who goes out weeping, bearing seed for sowing…” no matter our circumstances, we can be about our Father’s business: sowing seeds of kindness, friendship, hospitality, charity so that there remains not even standing room only for every form of evil.