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Gaudete Sunday

It is quite easy to be sad these days. It is also easy to be angry. When one is angry, is sadness not far behind? Almost yearly before Advent, people get angry at many things – rising costs of commodities, oil price hike, abuse in government. The news shows only people with deep grudges and regrets about the society.

Notice though that when tragedies strike, like the usual storms, landslides and floods to which we have grown accustomed, we forget our gripes and fix our attention on the miserable victims. As we begin to worry for the welfare of the children, the elderly and the sick, our hearts release its anger and give way to compassion and concern for others. Our anger melts away and love prevails! Joy returns!

Joy, this is what we desire for our lives. But we will not be really joyful if our eyes are fixated on our own selves. If we live in complaints, regrets and arguments, the more we condemn our selves to perpetual sadness and anger.

That is why today, it is important to heed the challenge of the Lord. God wants us to welcome joy instead of anger and hate. He wants us to encounter joy in the person of His Son Jesus our Lord. Isaiah expresses this well in prophecy: 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.

How will this joy come? It will come once we learn to open our hearts to the Lord. The gospel illustrates this in the inquiry of John the Baptist’s disciples to Jesus, whether he was the Messiah awaited by the people. And Jesus’ confident reply: the blind now see, the lame now walk, the lepers are cleansed, the deaf now hear. What else are you waiting for? This Jesus, sent by God is the one who will give us perfect joy as he heals and transforms our lives.

When a person opens his heart to Jesus, he receives this joy and he readily opens up his heart to others, too. It becomes easier to turn away from selfishness. It becomes easier to help others and serve them. Are there people among us whose hearts are “blind, deaf, lame or in leprosy” because of our refusal to receive the Lord? Let us allow Jesus now to heal us and to liberate us so that we can truly love. Then joy will flood our hearts.

In a few days, it is Christmas. Prepare to receive the joy of the Lord. Open your heart to Jesus and open your heart to your neighbor in distress. Our needy brother or sister may not be in some evacuation center but just very close by – the people we meet each day. To receive Jesus and our neighbor is real joy!