Monday, December 12, 2011

Advent Joy

Dear Theophilus,

This third week of Advent we lit a pink candle to remind us of the joyful hope we have for the coming of Jesus Christ. But do we really understand the joy we will experience when we come face to face with our Lord Incarnate?

To even begin to glimpse the joy God offers through salvation we need to recognize the moments of pure joy we experience here on earth. Although material possessions can make our lives more comfortable, those moments of pure joy in knowing the rightness of God’s plan are fleeting. Personally, I can think of only 3 moments when I have experienced joy.

The first was my wedding day. Standing at the altar, as I watch my soon-to-be wife walking down the aisle I was overcome by an intense tranquility. Amid all of the craziness a wedding day brings, at that precise moment I felt just how right our marriage is. Our union is what God had meant to be.

I didn’t experience that feeling of rightness again for another 8 years, until I held my adoptive son for the very first time. We had been praying for a long time to have a family, and had finally listened to God’s call to adoption. When my wife put our son into my arms, I once again experienced the pure joy of knowing that this was what God saw was right in the world.

My final experience of joy happens from time to time as I read scripture at Mass. It doesn’t happen every time, but there are moments when I feel the Holy Spirit take over and I become no more than a hollow reed through which God proclaims his Word. As I listen to the Word proclaimed by my own voice, there is a deep sense that this is a part of God’s divine plan.

Having had these experiences, then, I’ve come to know joy not as a result of material satisfaction, but rather in an understanding of God’s plan; a rightness in the world. If these moments of joy can be so moving, then how powerful and intense will be the joyful experience when I meet the Word Incarnate in Christ Jesus? It’s this looking forward that is the joyful hope of Advent.