UNUSUAL JOY AND HAPPINESS Homily for the 3rd Sunday of Advent (Year B) Rev. Fr. Boniface Nkem Anusiem PhD

JOY

Many years ago as little primary school pupils we had lots of extra-curricular activities that were very exciting and memorable. On one occasion we had the visit of one “SUPER MAN” also known as “KILLI-WE”. He was a huge macho man with lots of muscle bumps all over his body. Whenever he flexes his muscles he would appear like a huge rugged rock while looking fierce and scary. Our headmaster had arranged for his visit to our school to display his amazing muscular routines.  We paid some money and got entrance tickets to watch the Hercules of the moment as we expected him to displays most of the things we heard about him in rumours which included using his teeth to pull a motor bike with a rider on it.

We were given a time frame to expect his coming and we waited for him to arrive. The time we were given came and passed and he was still nowhere around but we kept waiting patiently. As the waiting progressed, we saw a van that had the image of the SUPER MAN on it boldly printed with his name in cursive writing. The arrival of the van brought about a great outburst of joy and happiness; it was even surprising to see some of our teachers jumping up and down with unbridled hilarity like little children who just received Christmas toys.

When the van came closer some men alighted. One of them looked very muscular and some mistook him for the man we were expecting even one of the male teacher gave him a very respectful low bow but he was not the actual “SUPER MAN”. When they came into the arena, the muscular man among them announced to everyone that “KILLI-WE” his master would arrive very soon and warned that anyone without a ticket will be dealt with personally by the “SUPER MAN” himself in the way and manner that pleases him which may involve slaughtering. He ended by advocating for proper conduct during the show.

The presence of the van and the men who came to set the place for the “SUPER MAN” turned our waiting from being boring to being highlighted with great joy and happiness; we became sure that his coming would happen soon. As we continued to look forward with heightened joy and happiness the man later arrived and we had a memorable session with him as he displayed a lot of amazing muscular activities.

Joy and happiness are benign human emotions that are normally brought about by something that could either be internal or external, physical or spiritual. However, whatever that brings about these emotions must be positive or if you like gainful to either the body, mind or spirit. Put in another way, there must always be a good reason to rejoice and to be happy. One could be termed neurotic or psychotic if the individual is seen overly joyous and happy for no deserving reason or for a reason that does not support joy and happiness for instance rejoicing and dancing happily at a gory accident scene.

Today, there seems to be a call on us to rejoice and be happy on account of a reality that has not yet come; the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ which we are awaiting. People rejoice ordinarily when what they are anticipating arrives or when there is a fulfilment of what they are looking forward to. In our case, the one we are waiting for has not yet arrived but there is a clarion call on us to rejoice and be happy but why?

The answer to the above question can be reasoned out from the opening story which talked about the coming of the “SUPER MAN” and how we rejoiced when the van carrying his men arrived. He was not with them but they brought things and news that were related to him that made us radiate with joy and happiness even when we knew he was not there yet. The joy and happiness of this Third Sunday of Advent is anchored on the person and message of John the Baptist with reference to the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.

Some people were created by God for the advent and mission of the messiah and John the Baptist is one of the prominent personalities in the messianic drama. He was born to be a witness to the Light (John 1:7). The coming of John and his message brought the messiah closer to the people. There is an indication that what seems to be eternally far is now fundamentally close. In the Gospel Reading today (John 1:6-8, 19-28) John spoke about the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ but he did so using the imagery of light.

The importance of light to life generally cannot be over-emphasized. Light brings warmth, joy and happiness just unlike darkness. That our Lord Jesus Christ is the light is a fact beyond contention. The prophet Isaiah had earlier said that those dwelling in darkness had seen a great light (Isaiah 9:2). On his part also our Lord made a bespoke statement which says: “I am the light of the world” (John 8:12).

When John spoke about the light he was announcing the imminent arrival of the messiah. Obviously the people have being waiting and John the Baptist, in the manner of those who came with the van in our story, came to announce that the waiting will no longer be too long as the messiah is close at hand. To make it more concrete, he announced that he (the messiah) is coming after him (John the Baptist). We see this resonating with the First Reading (Isaiah 61:1-4; 8-11) where the oracle of the prophet declared the mission to bring good news to the oppressed which includes the broken-hearted, prisoners and captives. Good news we all know bring about joy and happiness no matter how deplorable the current situation is.

There is need for us to rejoice and be glad today because our redeemer and redemption is close at hand. We are expected to rejoice and be glad not just for rejoicing sake but on account of the fact that we are on the right path and we are also doing the needful in anticipation of the arrival of the messiah. In our opening story, those who heralded the coming of the “SUPER MAN” among other things asked us to ensure that our tickets are intact and our comportment should also be apt. In the same way John the Baptist not only announced the coming of the light and the need to rejoice, he also admonished for making a way for the Lord which involves spiritual reconstruction of our hearts.

We are already experiencing the lighting of very beautiful and awesomely decorated Christmas tress and lights in various cities in the world. Most shops, offices and other public places are radiant with so many Christmas accessories. Often I pause and ponder while at the same time wishing that our inner lives could be as well decorated and radiant like the Christmas lights and effects around us so that the joy and happiness will have full meaning.

As we march into this Third Sunday of Advent let us continue to rejoice and be glad as the joy of the Lord is our strength (Neh.8:10) St. Paul did admonished us in the Second Reading (1 Thess.5:16-24) to rejoice always. However we must not fail to pay attention to the fact that in activating our joy and gladness we should hold unto what is good (1 Thess.5:21). We end with the legendry song of Isaac Watts.

 

Joy to the World, the Lord is come!

Let earth receive her King;

Let every heart prepare Him room,

And Heaven and nature sing,

And Heaven and nature sing,

And Heaven, and Heaven, and nature sing.

 

Joy to the World, the Savior reigns!

Let men their songs employ;

While fields and floods, rocks, hills and plains

Repeat the sounding joy,

Repeat the sounding joy,

Repeat, repeat, the sounding joy.

 

No more let sins and sorrows grow,

Nor thorns infest the ground;

He comes to make His blessings flow

Far as the curse is found,

Far as the curse is found,

Far as, far as, the curse is found.

 

He rules the world with truth and grace,

And makes the nations prove

The glories of His righteousness,

And wonders of His love,

And wonders of His love,

And wonders, wonders, of His love.

Have a wonderful Third Sunday of Advent and remain blessed.

Fr. Bonnie

(fatherbonny@hotmail.com).

 

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