God is in love with our world. That is the luminous thread woven into the prayers, music and biblical figures of Advent. Once this realization becomes real for us, then joy is released to blossom in us.
It’s hard to grasp the meaning of joy with our minds. Joy is elusive. It is not happiness or euphoria. It defies definition but can be described and experienced in a number of ways. Joy grows in us over a lifetime. The person who is learning joy gazes at and walks in the world in such a way as he/she can see God’s imprint in life and nature. Joy is the keen awareness of God’s presence or the coming of God into our life journeys. As it dawns on us that God is very near, we find a deep satisfaction in life that has nothing to do with acquisition, fleeting pleasures or the superficial.
“The present moment is filled with joy. If you are attentive, you will see it.” (Thich Nhat Hanh)
“Joy, it seems to me, is a step beyond happiness. Happiness is a sort of atmosphere you can live in sometimes, when you’re lucky. Joy is a light that fills you with hope and faith and love.” (Adela Rodgers St. Johns)
“You are free to think thoughts of worry or joy, and whatever you choose will attract the same back to you. Worry attracts worry. Joy attracts joy.” (Rhonda Byrne)
“Joy is the holy fire that keeps our purpose warm and our intelligence aglow.” (Helen Keller)
“Joy is not expressed the same way at all times in life, especially moments of great difficulty. Joy adapts and changes, but it always endures, even as a flicker of light born of our personal certainty that, when everything is said and done, we are infinitely loved.” (Pope Francis, The Joy of the Gospel)
So on this Advent Sunday, we come full circle to the Christmas truth that God so loved the world that He sent His only Son. Here and now, as in Bethlehem, God is in love with our world…with each of us and all of us.
Don’t make joy a project. Don’t try to pre-program it. The experience of joy is part of God’s promise and it will happen in your heart. Be lighthearted and spontaneous. Deep joy and fun don’t negate each other.
Look around you and see for certain that God is in love with the world. We have great cause to rejoice.
~Sister Joan Sobala