Lk. 3: 10-18




In the first week, we considered Advent as God’s visit; in the second as God’s gift of hope. Now as we draw closer to the celebration of Christmas, do we not already feel at least a bit of God’s joy?


We cannot escape the message of joy in the readings. Zephaniah calls us to loud rejoicing, to shout out our joy! Paul, instead, invites us to relish interior joy! Luke mentions the words “good news” or gospel, which is a message of joy.


Advent truly point us to the experience of joy. Even our preparations for Christmas manifest or invite us to forget our sorrows and to break out in a smile. Look at the lantern, the parol, or behold the Christmas tree and its lights. Smell the bibingka or rice cake and admire the ham. Even simply wrapping a gift elicits a feeling of happiness.


Joy, as a gift from God, is different from mere laughter. Laughter stops when tears begin to flow. We cannot laugh when we are troubled, anxious, afraid or sick. But joy is a precious feeling that no one or nothing can take away from our hearts.


The poor experience joy in the midst of their simplicity. The sick knows joy in the company of their loved ones who care for them. Those who grieve are consoled by the conviction that their loved ones are in a better place. Even in the midst of the pandemic, we never ran out of ways to express and share our joy to make each other’s burdens easier to bear.


From the readings, it is clear that joy comes from encountering God. Knowing that he is near, we feel his love. Relying on his protection, we become strong. Recognizing the small graces of each day makes us sincerely thankful. Paul emphasizes the link between gratitude and joy. The more we thank the Lord, the more we joyful we become.


From St. Francis de Sales I adopted the custom of thanking the Lord for the gift of my “resurrection” each morning. From St. Benedict, I learned how to thank the Lord for the chance to experience “conversion of life” each day. With a smile, I welcome in gratitude all the blessings God will for me each morning. And at the end of the day, I write down at least five things to be grateful to God for during the day.


The Lord Jesus is inviting us to enter into joy! Embrace his love and experience the joy that does not fade but rather grows as we learn to be grateful and kind.


(Simbang Gabi readings and reflections will be shared here starting Dec. 13, 2021 from the book “Where is the Child?” Hope it helps you to reflect on the Simbang Gabi novena Masses for Christmas. Thank you!)