OWN AND KEEP YOUR JOY HOMILY FOR THE 3RD SUNDAY OF ADVENT Rev. Fr. Boniface Nkem Anusiem Ph.D.

Once upon a time, a military general who did not believe in God learned about the sudden conversion of his only daughter to Christianity, and he was incredibly sad about it. Calling on her, he gave her three days to renounce her new faith. After three days, she showed up before her dad, but she did not show signs in the direction of leaving her Christian faith. The general was angry and ordered his men to put her in prison without food and water for two days.

After two days in prison, the general was surprised to see her radiating with smiles. He was confused but still asked if she was ready to renounce her faith in Jesus Christ. The lady replied and said, “I would never renounce my faith because I have never known the kind of joy I experienced in the past two days in prison without food and drink. I am ready to go back to prison to experience more of that joy with Jesus Christ”.

The general was shocked and curiously asked her to tell him about Jesus Christ and this joy that filled her for two days without food and drink; She did. The good news you need to know is that the general later converted to Christianity.

Happiness vs. Joy

There is a significant difference between happiness and joy. We need to understand this distinction before we launch deeper into the reflection. The major difference between happiness and joy is that happiness is conditional, while joy is unconditional.

Happiness could temporarily excite the body and the mind, but joy endures even in the face of tribulations. Joy is a facility of the Spirit (Gal.5:22). In response to Elizabeth’s greetings, the Blessed Virgin Mary said my soul glorifies the Lord, and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior (Luke 1:46-47). In the Gospel of Luke (10:21), we read that Jesus rejoiced in the spirit and praised the Father.

Today we come to terms with the theme of joy. In the First Reading (Isaiah 61:1-2a,10-11), the speaker in the narrative says, among other things, “I rejoice heartily in the Lord, in my God is the joy of my soul.” In the Second Reading (1Thess. 5:16-24), St. Paul tells his listeners to rejoice always with prayers and thanksgiving in all circumstances.

In the Gospel of John (John 1:6-8, 19-28), the writer uses the image of light to describe the testimony of John the Baptist about the coming of the Messiah. We learn from the passage that John is not the light, but he came to testify to the light, and that is Jesus Christ. The image of light promises joy to those who are sitting in the sad corners of darkness.

Rejoice, You Deserve it

People often talk about natural and fundamental human rights like the right to life, property, and liberty. There are rights in the spiritual plane, and one of them is the right to be joyful. You deserve joy in your life. And nothing and nobody has the right to take away your joy.

There are many joy killers in and around us. For brevity, we shall look at a few of them in this reflection. One of them could be your past. They include but are not reduced to your past mistakes and bad choices. They could have been stupid and even had multiple bad consequences. You need to know that there is nothing about the past you can change; it is gone! Often, we get fixated about the past that we lose the joy we can get from the present time. Snap out of your past and own your joy now.

Another factor that impacts our joy is our attention to what people say and how they feel about us. One truth you need to know and accept is that you cannot please everybody; do not even try. You often must displease people to please God to have your joy coming. Your excellence will bring more attacks to you, but do not be discouraged; people talk about important people, so do not be disturbed when they include you.

Another factor that disrupts our joy is our consistent worrying. Some people worry about nearly everything on earth. But worrying would never change anything; rather, it would complicate issues. The worst form of worrying happens when we imagine and worry about things that would never exist.

Moving Forward: Own and Keep Your Joy  

Nothing could have taken away your joy if you did not permit it. Own and keep your joy. Do not hand over your joy to your past. The prophet Isaiah (43:18) says, do not remember the former things or consider old things.

Let nobody, and not even your family take away the joy of the Lord in your life. Our Lord Jesus Christ says (Matt. 10:13) that a man’s enemies will be members of his household. Allow God to take handle those worrisome situations. In Matthew (6:34), our Lord Jesus Christ encourages us not to worry about tomorrow as tomorrow will worry about itself and today has enough trouble already.

Joy is not a choice; it is the consequence of our choices about things we allow or let go of our lives. Own and keep your joy and remember, as the Nehemiah (8:10) advised the people, the joy of the Lord is your strength. It is about time you need to rebuild your walls of joy in your life; you deserve it. God bless you and have a blessed week ahead.

Fr. Bonnie.

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