SUNDAY HOMILY: The Happy Priest Reflects on Christian Joy
difficulties around us will crush us. Rather than experiencing the joy which is a fruit of the Holy Spirit, we will be overwhelmed by profound anxiety and sadness.
Life has different seasons. Sometimes our existence moves forward like a sunny summer day. We feel the closeness of God and our days unfold effortlessly. But then the harshness of winter comes along. We become overwhelmed by the apparent absence of God's presence. Prayer becomes tedious. People seem to bother us. Perhaps the death of a loved one, the loss of a job, sickness, or the disloyalty of a friend brings us into the harshness and darkness of a winter day. Nevertheless, even in these moments we can experience Christian joy.
Fr. Jean Vanier, the French founder of L'Arche, has had continual experience with suffering through his work with the mentally disabled. In his writings, he maintains that darkness is important. "We must learn to be strong and peaceful in darkness, not fighting it, but waiting. We must learn to accept this winter as a gift from God, and we will discover that the snow will melt and the flowers come up."
Within all of the trials and tribulations that surround us, let us be patient and be filled with hope. The dark night of purification will bring about something beautiful and pure.
"On that day, it shall be said to Jerusalem: Fear not, O Zion, be not discouraged! The Lord, your God is in your midst, a mighty savior; he will rejoice over you with gladness, and renew you in his love, he will sing joyfully because of you, as one sings at festivals" (Zephaniah 3: 14-18).
A few years ago, a young, attractive, successful woman noticed a small lump behind her ear as she was brushing her hair. As the days went on, she noticed that the lump was getting larger, so she decided to see her doctor. Her worst fears were confirmed. The doctor told her that the lump was a large tumor that would require immediate surgery.
When she awoke following the surgery, she found her entire head wrapped like a mummy. She could see herself in a mirror only through two tiny holes cut into the wrapping. Desiring to see what she looked like, she unwound the large bandage from her head and was shocked to see that her once attractive features had become disfigured by a paralysis caused perhaps by damage to facial nerves during the removal of the tumor.
Standing before the mirror, she told herself that she had one choice to make: to laugh or to cry. She decided to laugh. Sadly, the various therapies tried were unsuccessful in alleviating the facial paralysis. However, that decision made to laugh in the face of adversity has allowed this woman to carry on with her life with joy.
My dear friends, let us make this Christmas the best Christmas ever by making a firm decision today to rid ourselves from every behavior that causes us to be consumed by sadness. "Rejoice in the Lord always. I shall say it again: rejoice!" (Philippians 4: 4)
Father James Farfaglia is a
contributing writer for Catholic Online and author of Get Serious! - A Survival Guide for Serious Catholics. You can visit him on the web at www.fatherjames.org
and listen to the audio podcast of this Sunday homily.
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Pope Benedict XVI's Prayer Intentions for January 2013
General Intention: The Faith of Christians. That in this Year of Faith Christians may deepen their knowledge of the mystery of Christ and witness joyfully to the gift of faith in him.
Missionary Intention: Middle Eastern Christians. That the Christian communities of the Middle East, often discriminated against, may receive from the Holy Spirit the strength of fidelity and perseverance.
Keywords: Sunday homily, homily, homilies, advent, christmas, joy, father james farfaglia
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