1st Reading: Zephaniah 3:14-18; 2nd Reading: Philippians 4:4-7; Gospel: Luke 3:10-18.
THEME: BEING COMPASSIONATE: A SHORTCUT FOR GAINING DIVINE JOY AND PEACE.
Naturally, many people like to associate, or rather, engage themselves with things that they feel would always bring inner joy, happiness, peace, as well as solace into their lives. Some of these things are wealth, fame, beauty, intelligence, position, drugs, etc. But most times, the joy, peace and happiness they experience afterwards seem to be momentary; operating on the altar of temporality. So, if all these mentioned above do not give inner and lasting joy to our souls, then what can we do in order to experience it?
In the Gospel, John the Baptist elucidated the prerequisites for gaining inner and lasting joy, peace and happiness into our souls: being compassionate to those in need by giving them the basic necessities of life (food, cloth, shelter, etc.); being contented with what we have and not to defraud people in order to enrich ourselves; not to intimidate others either directly or indirectly because we are superior to them; not to accuse others falsely because we want to gain favour; not to be arrogant, proud or selfish, rather, to be kind, charitable and humble in everything we do.
Certainly, only when we truly repent (frequent sacrament of reconciliation) from our wrong doings by refraining from anything that would mar our relationship with God, or jeopardize the life of others; touching the lives of others positively by putting smiles on their faces, especially in this Yuletide; and then, wrapping ourselves with the clothes of humility and meekness, then we shall obtain divine joy, happiness and peace of God, which surpass all understanding . Since before God, the right attitude is one of humility and meekness, because one no longer counts on one’s own strength, but relies solely on God. For the Joy of the Lord is our strength (Nehemiah 8:10).
Meanwhile, the Church celebrates Gaudete Sunday (Joyous Sunday) today, a special day in which we are reminded of the joy in Christ’s redeeming work among us, which we are about to commemorate in few days to come, precisely on the Christmas day. When we prepare ourselves properly for that day, then we shall truly experience the inner joy and peace promised to those who welcome Christ in their hearts. For in the presence of the Lord, there is fullness of joy (Psalms 16:11).
Finally, it is very important to note that, wealth, fashion, beauty, intelligence, fame, positions, etc., do not actually give one inner and lasting joy, peace and happiness. But the only condition for us to experience them is to love our fellow human beings sincerely by constantly alleviating their problems daily.
So, we are called to rejoice this Sunday by spreading the joy of Christ’s coming to the ends of the earth through love, charity, justice, righteousness, tolerance, patience, kindness, forgiveness, etc, with the help of the Holy Spirit. For being compassionate to people is the only short way to gaining inner (divine) joy and peace. When we do these, then with joy, we shall draw spiritual nourishments from the Lord’s well of salvation (Isaiah 12:5) in this forthcoming Yuletide, which will help us gain eternal life when our earthly life expire.
Peace of Christ be with you…
Rev. Fr. Ben Okala, C.S.Sp.