3rd Sunday of Advent 14.12.14 Joy
We say to each other: How are you? We answer, Oh, just fine!
It may not be true, we feel as we say it. But we know it is usually too hard to go into all the details.
However if we were to consider the question over a longer time span, say a hundred years – we really can say, Just fine – because over that sort of time span the will of God takes effect and we ourselves hope to be in Heaven. If that is the end of the story it all becomes worthwhile.
Still, though, we would like to have a happier time of the present, the meantime.
Where can we find the joy to which St Paul exhorts us? (Ph 4, epistle)
To begin with, it is no small thing that the whole world and everything in it belongs to God.
If we ever think that God is remote, well, He is not. Every particle of the world around us, and every moment of time is in His hands. He is fully aware of it all.
We just need to connect with Him. Then His goodness and power will be evident to us and we will be re-assured in our various anxieties, and pure joy will start to emerge.
We certainly do have anxieties. The same St Paul who tells us to ‘rejoice always’ also said that We are hard pressed on every side, perplexed, persecuted, struck down. Yet: we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal (2 Co 4,16-18).
Being joyful in Christ does not mean we have to ignore the problems and say that everything is fine, when clearly it is not. We can face the problems head on, and stare them down.
Whatever the problems are the power of God is much greater and it is only a matter of time before His strength prevails.
Joy is like a weapon that we can use; an assertion of the power of God in transforming reality to the desired state. The joy of the Lord is my strength (Neh 8,10).
But how do we retrieve this power? I know the Lord delivered the Israelites from Egypt and worked many other miracles. I know He will come again in glory, but where is He now? Can we summon up a miracle in the present?
God is always the same. He does not tire, does not weaken, and does not forget His promises.
All we have to do is call upon His power/goodness/joy and things will start improving straight away.
God is acting here and that must be a good thing.
Within God Himself everything is in perfect order. It is His nature, His eternal perfection. Whatever He creates shares in that perfection
He does not create defective beings. What we see as defective around us is the result of sin.
It was not meant to be so.
When we turn to God we are allowing His natural order to re-emerge in the world. People and things will start to behave as they were always intended to do.
There will be miracles, and there will be a lot of just ordinary everyday goodness.
There will be pain because it is work-in-process. We cannot iron out all the troubles at once, but we can make ourselves feel a lot better about life in general.
We are in the same position as the fictional heroes who are in trouble on every page but finally come good at the end. One book which is not fiction has this ending: He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away (Rev 21,4).