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Advent 3
There is a game show on television where the contestants are asked what they want to do with their lives. Almost everyone, especially the young, say they want to be a television or movie star. The host then screamed: What is it with you people? Why do you all want to be entertainment personalities?!?
No doubt, many people, the young and not so young, think that exposure in the world of entertainment makes you famous, rich and powerful. And they think that these things are the ingredients for happiness in this life. Becoming a celebrity pushes you up high where everyone can see and admire you. And that will definitely make you happy!
Today, the advent theme is joy, happiness in the Lord! What a great topic. We all need joy in our lives. God is telling us that He is the author of joy, the source of joy. From first reading, to the responsorial psalm, to the second reading, the cogent call is unavoidable – rejoice in the Lord!
But what is the formula for joy? The Gospel shows us John the Baptist living his mission of being the forerunner of the Messiah. He is not the great one and he admits it. He does not pretend to be what he is not. Rather he points to one who is coming to baptize with water and the Holy Spirit.
John was completely happy that he is not at the top; that he is not at the center. He is calmly satisfied that he is doing something for someone out of love. That is his formula for joy. Knowing who you are and offering your life, whether you are noticed or not, bring joy and peace to a person.
I am not saying that we must not aspire for big things. We must glorify God in excellence. I am not saying that we must not strive hard to attain our ambitions. We must endeavor always to succeed and gain fulfillment.
But the Lord is reminding us that in this difficult world that happiness, success, and fulfillment are not only measured by money, applause or acknowledgement. Some people have these and are miserable – we know that. The joy of the Lord is different in quality: it is felt even in the humblest of acts, done out of love and service to God and neighbor.
A mother caring for a disabled child is very happy. A wife caring for a paralyzed husband is joyful. A young man, foregoing selfishness, to assist his parents in supporting the family is fulfilled. Without fanfare, simple people show us how to be truly happy in the service we are engaged in.
What makes you happy? Is it just being at the top or at the center? That is not enough. True joy happens when you learn to offer yourself to Jesus, like John did. True joy happens when you learn to humbly serve the Kingdom, like Jesus did. You can be happy… at the bottom!