lunes, 15 de diciembre de 2014

The Joy of encountering Christ

picture from: Jose Eric M Lacsa [cjm]

Pope Francis apostolic exhortation “Evangelii Gaudium,” fills-up the air when he says: “the joy of the gospel fills the hearts and lives of all who encounter Jesus.”

Today we celebrate the “Gaudete Sunday” which is a Latin word which means “rejoice.” The Gaudete theme is captured in our two readings for today including the responsory. It talks about the three types of joy: the joy of advent, that of anticipation; of mid-lent, the joy of reaching an oasis in the desert; and of Easter, that of sorrow which has been turned into joy.

In the first reading, the prophet Isaiah sings exaltedly of Zion emerging out of the ashes of destruction. In great rejoicing, the prophet says: “I rejoice greatly in Yahweh, my soul exults for joy in my God, for he has clothed me in the garments of his salvation, he has covered me with the robe of his righteousness, like a bridegroom wearing a garland, like a bride adorned with jewels.”

St John Eudes could very well relate to this kind of joy, an experience akin from that of sorrow which turned into joy. Though he learnt in 1650 that the Bishop of Boyeux was about to close the chapel of the Caen Seminary, but he was still full of encouragement to write his brother M. Manchon: “Do not be astonished, this is but a passing storm.” After around three years, Father John Eudes obtains the authorization to have the seminary chapel reopened. In great rejoicing, he proclaims: “Blessed be God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies, and the God of all comfort who comforts us in all our tribulations. Alleluia! Alleluia!”

In the second reading, Paul speaks of the joy of Advent, a feeling of someone who anticipates for the coming of our Savior. In prayer and contemplation, we say: “Marana tha, come Lord Jesus.” In order to prepare ourselves for His coming, we could as well heed Paul’s encouragement: “Rejoice always, pray without ceasing and give thanks to God at every moment.” A beautiful image of this joy of anticipation can well relate to an experience of a pregnant woman expecting to deliver her baby soon. Though she suffers much pain when her time comes; but when her baby is born, she forgets the anguish because of her joy that a child is born into the world.

Another type of joy is an experience of finding an oasis in the desert. In the “desert” of our lives, like spiritual dryness, emotional depressions, indifference, etc; many times we feel that we are caught up from the “scorching heat” of discouragement and frustrations that life brings. But, where do we draw our inspiration to brace through life in order to find an “oasis?” Do we dwell in the sudden and instant gratification of joy that this world offer, like surfing in the internet day and night? Splurging in different parties everywhere, or a full shopping spree? Likewise, let us not lose sight to what is ephemeral, rather, we are all invited to refocus ourselves to what will surely give us joy; just like Mary who remains faithful to God’s promise and sings in praise: “My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord; my spirit rejoices in God my Savior.”

Indeed, the joy that we are looking for is in Christ. Let us welcome Him in our hearts so that He will be constantly be “born anew” in us.

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