Rejoice!!! “My soul magnifies the Lord and my spirit rejoices in God my savior” These are words taken from the Magnificat, Mary’s song of praise. Today indeed as Catholics we rejoice with Mary and the rest of humanity as Advent draws on, as we draw even closer to Christmas the great Solemnity.All the readings for this the third Sunday of Advent points us to the joy, light and hope that we find only in Jesus. We are exhorted in the first reading from Isaiah 61:10; “I will greatly rejoice in the Lord, my whole being shall exult in my God, for he has clothe me with the garments of salvation, he has covered me with the robe of righteousness”. What an exhortation.
As Christians do we truly rejoice? Are we a happy people who know who we are what and who holds our future? Can I as a baptized Catholic truly say that I know who I am? Are we mindful of whom it is that controls our present? If we did, we could and would truly rejoice constantly. We have been redeemed; mankind has been reconciled with God. What absolutely wonderful reasons we have to rejoice. Christ our Lord has made a way for us. Jesus has shattered the devil’s plans.
Our second reading from 1 Thessalonians 5: 16-18 implores us, “Rejoice always. Pray without ceasing. Give thanks in all circumstances, for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you”. Beloved it is indeed the will of God that all peoples would rejoice, pray and give thanks always. And yes, in-spite of our daily challenges, which take different forms for each of us, our God deeply desires our complete happiness.
But why does happiness seem to elude so many of us, even those who are seeking to and strive to follow Christ? Could it be that we seek to find happiness in the wrong things, places or persons? Is it that deep down we allow the wrong things to master our lives?
It has been said that we should not put the key to our happiness in someone else’s pocket. We are encouraged to put that key in our own pocket. As I thought about that I realized that keeping the key to my happiness (which will cause me to rejoice) in my own pocket is not the wisest idea. This is because any happiness or joy that I may be able to influence in my life is only temporal. They will not last. The key to my complete happiness should rightly, be placed in the pocket of Jesus, in his most sacred heart. The joy and happiness I will get and all the reasons to rejoice can only come from Jesus my Lord, knowing the price he paid especially for me.
When I know for sure who I am and whose I am, I can truly rejoice. When we know who we are, and whose we are, we can truly rejoice. Who exactly am I? What is my identity? Recently I was in one of our market places, and carefully noticed that a number of persons I saw appeared to have some serious identity issues. Some persons seemed to be dissatisfied with the image and identity in which they were created by God. So it appeared looking through my eyes. The images I saw made me ask God some questions. The first question I asked was, how does it make you feel when you see people maim their bodies, your holy temples by bleaching the skin, wearing multiple tattoos and body piercings and even wearing artificial eyelashes?
As people of God we must remember that the evil one as he seeks to destroy our souls also seek to destroy our bodies as well as our identity and makes us lose a sense of who we are, and by the way, our bodies were created by God in his image. Do we act as aid to the devil when we mutilate our bodies in disguised form which appears to the world as fashions and latest trends?
God made us all in his image and likeness. We must bear this in mind at all times, if we are to rise above the external forces which may come at us, including the deceptive traps which the devil will set for us.
I am a child of God. We are God’s children made in his holy image and children whom he saw fit to redeem by shedding his precious blood. My purpose is to live this image, to have and clearly display this identity, to be happy and rejoice always in this God, my Saviour and by my life, to win souls for his kingdom.
John the Baptist in today’s gospel knew his identity and his true purpose. He did not claim to be who he was not. On the contrary he confirmed on three occasions that he was not the Messiah, Elijah nor the Prophet. But you may ask, wasn’t John a prophet? In fact he was and as confirmed by Jesus himself the greatest one born of woman. John identified who he was as seen in the gospel. John1:23 “I am the voice of one crying out in the wilderness; make straight the way of the Lord”. He herald the way of the Messiah. He decreased and allowed Christ to increase in him and in others. He called people to repentance. He made Jesus known. His life was a testimony to what he preached and who he preached. John’s voice still cries out in the wilderness of our hearts today. “Make straight the way of the Lord”. He calls us to repentance and conversion. He calls to us in the business of our daily lives, in our preparation for Christmas, in our gift giving, in our highly commercialized views of Advent and Christmas. He beckons to us, “slow down, clean and clear our hearts and minds return to the Lord, avail yourself of the great joy and rejoicing God is calling you to.”
Did the people listen to John? Some of them did. Will we today listen? Some of us will. Let us reclaim our true identity. Husbands, wives, children co-workers, all God’s people let us live the identity of who we truly are. Blessed and highly favoured of God most high.
May we like John the Baptist strive to lead lives that help us and others to “make straight the way of the Lord” As this week of joy in Advent draws on, may we come to realize who we are in Christ Jesus. May we herald the Messiah and as we do so may we rejoice knowing that the Lord is near, may we rejoice, for he is truly here. Amen.
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