Jesus, the Reason for our Joy
Another year has passed, and the Christmas Season is here. This is a time of reflection, a time of joy as we celebrate Jesus. We celebrate love brought into the world through the gift of God’s Son to the entire world. Over two thousand years have passed. The gift of Jesus Christ is for all mankind. For many of us, this is a hectic time with celebrations and parties to attend. We create our own stress with the many “to-do” lists and trying to please everyone with our gifts and our presence. As the Christmas trees are left to the sidewalk for garbage pick-up or put away, we can put aside our anxieties and find true joy in the real meaning of this season which last beyond December 25th.
Finding Joy in Our Prayers for the Suffering
Finding joy may be easy for some, but for others, it is difficult because of bad memories of past Christmases, family members who have died, broken relationships, sickness, and tragedy. Joy is something that is not dependent on us but on God. We pray that we can find God’s joy as we celebrate this time. We pray to keep the joy given to us by Him.
Jesus, our Greatest Gift
Our Holy Father made the following statement two years ago on the gift of our Lord to humanity:
“This will be a sign for you; you will find a child wrapped in swaddling clothes and lying in a manger” (Luke 2:12) …The Child Jesus, born in Bethlehem, is the sign given to God to those who awaited salvation, and he remains forever the sign of God’s tenderness and presence in our world.”-Homily, Bethlehem Pilgrimage to the Holy Land, May 25, 2014
Truly this child, Jesus, is our greatest gift. He is the reason we can extend our joy past this season. Everything in this life is passing, and all of the great Christmas gifts we give today will be long forgotten and out of existence sooner than we think. Our faith is a gift that remains with us if we allow it to be the guiding force in our lives. In the acceptance of the gift of Jesus and in living it every day of our lives, we have received the gift of eternal life as we live it out daily with Him. This is an invitation and a gift. A gift which lasts forever.
Wisdom from Pope Francis on Joy in Christ
Our Holy Father is a man who lives out the joy of Christ daily. He has been challenged throughout his life and even in the present time. He continues to point to Jesus as the answer to all life’s problems. We are blessed to have Pope Francis as our leader and guide of the Catholic Church through the guidance of the Holy Spirit. In his Apostolic Exhortation, “Evangelli Gaudium” the Holy Father stated: “The Gospel, radiant with the glory of Christ’s cross, constantly invites us to rejoice.”
This is true. The glory of the cross is ever-present during the Christmas season and through the entire liturgical calendar year. The glory of the cross is ever-present in the manger since God’s glory has no boundaries in time and space. We can celebrate the resurrection of Christ in our hearts during the joy of Christmas knowing that the gift of salvation is at the heart of this gift from God to us.
A Gift for all Mankind
The Pope also made the following statement in “Evangelli Gaudium”:
“I invite all Christians everywhere at this very moment, to a renewed personal encounter with Jesus Christ, or at least an openness to letting him encounter them; I ask all of you to this unfailingly each day. No one should think that this invitation is not meant for him or her, since no one is excluded from the joy brought by the Lord.”
The message here is no one excluded from this invitation. For some, we cannot seem to find this gift in our hearts no matter how hard we try. Perhaps this is not something we need to search hard for but rather open our eyes to the present moment and in saying “yes” to God. We can accept the joy of Christ in our hearts. If we look to Mary, Christ’s Holy Mother, we can learn to imitate her “yes” as she accepted God’s invitation to be the Mother of God. We can do the same in accepting joy into our hearts at Christmastime and beyond. Despite our suffering, imperfections, and crosses, we can find the joy of Jesus and continue to live it out one step at a time. We extend this joy to all we encounter. We can bring the gifts of peace, joy, and love to all we meet.
Love: Our Greatest Gift for Others
With joy in our hearts and an openness to accept Christ’s love, we give love to others. This is a gift for all people, not just Christians in our social circles. At this time in history, God is calling us to love all people, especially those we may disagree with or dislike us. This is not an easy task, but it is how peace is brought into our world. Through daily virtue, good lives and the Holy Spirit we can break the barrier of war with our brothers and sisters that exists in our families, workplaces, the Church and the world. This will be brought about with Christ and the gifts of the Sacraments of our Church and in his love. He will guide us along the way of peace. May the joy of Christ and his love enlighten our hearts to forgive, love and bring Christmas to the world today and always.