The story is told about a little boy who was throwing a terrible tantrum in a plane that was getting ready for departure. Nothing and no one could do anything, until an elderly man in an Army uniform came up to the boy and whispered something in his ear—whereupon the child stopped screaming and started behaving like a lamb. When asked by the stewardess what he had said to the boy, the elderly man said: “I told him that I am a decorated war hero, and that I am entitled and authorized to throw out of the plane door any passenger I want.”
In today’s Gospel (John 1, 6-8, 19-28), we hear of how people listened to John the Baptist in earnest. Not only that: They began changing their ways and behaving better. John the Baptist was a man with a mission, and a clear message. What made him such a powerful preacher? He spoke his truth quietly and clearly, and he was a man who walked his talk. Indeed, actions speak louder than words.
“Words move people but example draws people.” How true! We, modern-day preachers, have much to learn from John the Baptist. More than eloquence, gimmicks, or gadgets, what we need to have is a clear and simple message, and the appropriate lifestyle that goes with it.
Today is Gaudete (Rejoice) Sunday, and we light the third (pink) candle of the Advent wreath to remind us that joy is one of the marks of a true Christian. Let our wait for the birth of our Savior be filled with expectant joy. In spite of trials, difficulties, setbacks, or oppressions, let us rejoice and be glad because we have a God who knows everything. He is with us and He loves us.
“Rejoice always. Pray without ceasing. In all circumstances give thanks, for this is the will of God for you in Christ Jesus” (Thessalonians 5:16). What is the secret of joy? A person who is prayerful, who is grateful, and who is obedient to God’s will is a joyful person!
We pray to the Lord today as we light the candle of joy, to give us “joy in the face of apathy, joy in the face of sorrows, and joy in the face of uncertainty.” Yes, let the joy of the Lord be our strength.
By the way, true joy is a choice we make, a grace we receive, and it is not dependent on people or situations around us. As we prepare for Christmas, may we experience true joy which the world cannot give or take away. And may we spread joy to people around us in the most beautiful time of the year. Yes, may we become radiators of joy!
Sharing with you this joyful prayer: “Because of you, God … I can smile in my storms; I can pray in my persecutions; I can be gracious in my grief; I can dance in my depression. I can praise in my prison; I can sing in my sickness; I can clap while I bear my cross; I can worship in my weakness. Amen.”
Someone suggested that as we prepare for Christmas, let us focus less on buying presents and more on being present; less on buying food and more on donating food; less on partying and more on praying; less on decorations and more on our relations; less on getting and more on giving. Any more suggestions? Perhaps you can make your own suggestions to make Christmas less a holiday and more a holy day?
“For God so loved the world that He sent His only begotten Son” (Jn. 3:16). This is what Christmas is all about, and it’s all about a God who chose to get involved with us, His lowly creatures. In response to His tremendous love, let us all strive to love Him, and to love others because we are brothers and sisters, with Him as our Father.
For those of us who are missing loved ones especially at Christmas, let us thank God for the gift of eternal life, with the promise that we will all meet again someday. And as we ourselves don’t know when we will go, let us make this Christmas our best Christmas ever. Let us not postpone our conversion, and let us not postpone our loving.
A moment with the Lord:
Lord, with all the sham, drudgery, and broken dreams around us, let us choose joy, and choose to spread joy! Amen.
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