Pardon me as I took a break from writing last week in preparation for examinations. Tomorrow marks the end of the semester for me which means no more examinations and projects till next year. Also this week, I will be donning green once more as I go for my first cycle of reservist. I am grateful that slowly by surely, I am also entering into the much anticipated holiday season.
The gospel this week follows the teachings of John the Baptist and the birth of Jesus. John answered them all, saying,”I am baptizing you with water, but one mightier than I is coming. I am not worthy to loosen the thongs of his sandals. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire. His winnowing fan is in his hand to clear his threshing floor and to gather the wheat into his barn,but the chaff he will burn with unquenchable fire”(Luke 3:10-18).
The question that I asked myself this week is “Where and what should I do to find Joy this Advent?” This is a tough question to answer as so much happened this year and I was just non-stop completing school assignments and other commitments. It taught me one thing – I could make the choice to find my own joy and I am grateful for these experiences teaching me to cope more.
We could think of all the reasons why Christmas would not be a joyful occasion due to the world being in chaos, trouble in our own families or relationships not working out. However, the good news that Jesus wants us to know that no matter what the circumstances, it is not too late to start searching for that joy. Just like the icon of the nativity scene, are we willing to enter the warmth of the manger to witness the birth of Jesus or would we be rather waiting outside in the cold and brooding over all the unhappy situations that have occurred to us?
Joy is a gift where we could pass it to others this Christmas as it should be just like any other year which is special and meaningful. In lighting the advent wreath,we too must find that spark to ignite that joy within our hearts and lives so that others around us will experience it too.
Prayer is also important in finding joy as spending more time conversing with God would lead to a better relationship with Him. In the second reading, St Paul says,“The Lord is near. Have no anxiety at all,but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving,make your requests known to God.Then the peace of God that surpasses all understanding will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus”(Philippians 4:4-7). I realised that by going to adoration, I feel more reassured and at peace with myself as I can place my problems and worries with Jesus. Sometimes, I worry too much which could impede me from finding joy.
I was reading this message by Pope Francis and it was aptly titled,”Being Happy” which fits into this week’s theme of finding joy.
“You may have defects, be anxious and sometimes live irritated, but do not forget that your life is the greatest enterprise in the world. Only you can prevent it from going into decadence. There are many that need you, admire you and love you.
I would like to remind you that being happy is not having a sky without storms, or roads without accidents, or work without fatigue, or relationships without disappointments.
Being happy is finding strength in forgiveness, hope in one’s battles, security at the stage of fear, love in disagreements.
Being happy is not only to treasure the smile, but that you also reflect on the sadness. It is not just commemorating the event, but also learning lessons in failures. It is not just having joy with the applause, but also having joy in anonymity.
Being happy is to recognize that it is worthwhile to live, despite all the challenges, misunderstandings and times of crises.
Being happy is not inevitable fate, but a victory for those who can travel towards it with your own being.
Being happy is to stop being a victim of problems but become an actor in history itself. It is not only to cross the deserts outside of ourselves, but still more, to be able to find an oasis in the recesses of our soul. It is to thank God every morning for the miracle of life.
Being happy is not being afraid of one’s feelings. It is to know how to talk about ourselves. It is to bear with courage when hearing a “no”. It is to have the security to receive criticism, even if is unfair. It is to kiss the children, pamper the parents, have poetic moments with friends, even if they have hurt us.
Being happy means allowing the free, happy and simple child inside each of us to live; having the maturity to say, “I was wrong”; having the audacity to say, “forgive me”. It is to have sensitivity in expressing, “I need you”; to have the ability of saying, “I love you.” So that your life becomes a garden full of opportunities for being happy…
In your spring-time, may you become a lover of joy. In your winter, may you become a friend of wisdom. And when you go wrong along the way, you start all over again. Thus you will be more passionate about life. And you will find that happiness is not about having a perfect life but about using tears to water tolerance, losses to refine patience, failures to carve serenity, pain to lapidate pleasure, obstacles to open the windows of intelligence.
Never give up …. Never give up on the people you love. Never give up from being happy because life is an incredible show. And you are a special human being!”
This is so touching and meaningful . . . Yes! I will not give up in finding joy and share the joy of Christmas with others too. It is not about the presents or overseas holidays, but the company of our loved ones and God Who puts Christ in Christmas. Rejoice, the Lord is near! God Bless.
Written By: Darren Chan Keng Leong