joy (Photo credit: nsdis)
In those days John the Baptist appeared in the wilderness of Judea, proclaiming, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven has come near.” Matthew 3:1-2
While John the Baptist was preparing the way for Jesus, there was a frenzy! We read that “the people of Jerusalem and all Judea were going out to him, and all the region along the Jordan” (Mt. 3:5) Imagine the crowds! They were seeking him out from all over. Even the Pharisees and Sadducees came to him, despite the fact that they did not fully believe in what he was saying. But still they came.
These people did not know Jesus. They did not know the sacrifice He would make. They did not yet know He is our Savior. We know Jesus! We know about His birth, His ministry, His miracles, His death and resurrection. We know that sacrifice He made and we know He will come again! That knowledge is what fills us with hope, peace, love, and joy this Advent season.
As we wait and prepare our hearts we should be exploding with joy! Joy that we can share with others to let them know this is not just any ordinary time…this is a very special time of year! One of the ways many people share that joy as we prepare for Christmas is through Christmas carols, twinkling lights, baking cookies, decorating the tree, sending Christmas cards, buying presents to surprise those we love, and so on.
It can seem that Advent contradicts the frenzied Christmas atmosphere that has been abundant since Thanksgiving. That the early onset of constant Christmas music, decorations, and chaotic shopping malls are the opposite of Advent preparation. But I disagree. All the music, the decorations, the crowds, the commotion…that is what happens when you prepare for something special!
The season of Advent is all about waiting and preparing. We pray, repent, spend quiet time in reflection over God’s word. But as we prepare we are also called to lead the way for the celebration of Christmas! John the Baptist’s voice rang out in the desert calling out to people as he prepared the way for Jesus!
We need to do the same. To call out to people, to let them know something wonderful is coming. If our joy is authentic, it will become infectious. And as we prepare for Christmas and for Christ to come again, we should want that joy to spread to everyone!
Let us pray that through our joyous preparation this Advent season, we will lead those around us to a happy and holy Christmas. Even if, as the Pharisees and Sadducees, they celebrate in our joy without fully believing or understanding the reason Even if they are more concerned with elves on shelves and doorbuster deals and Santa…let our joy in Christ be so contagious that they can’t help but journey out of the malls and secular Christmas preparations to see what all the fuss is truly about.
This Advent, let us all prepare the way of the Lord not only in the quiet moments we spend alone with God, but in our everyday actions with everyone around us by spreading hope, love, peace, and the joy that can be found only in Christ with everyone we meet.
“Proclaiming Christ means showing that to believe in and to follow him is not only something right and true, but also something beautiful, capable of filling life with new splendour and profound joy, even in the midst of difficulties.”
~Pope Francis in his Apostolic Exhortation “Evangelii Gaudium” (“The Joy of the Gospel”) November 24, 2013