others. He was the “best man” at the wedding. His humility opened a space within him for true joy, the kind which comes from the real presence of the Lord. So it can be for each one of us.
As we walk through the remaining two weeks of this Advent of preparation, the two biblical persons held before us in our readings at Mass and in the Liturgy of the Hours will be John the Baptizer and Mary. Mary's humility brought heaven to earth and earth to heaven. She was a woman of deep joy because she became the habitation of happiness, the first living tabernacle. She overflows with Jesus and imparts joy to us all. We call her, among her many other wonderful titles, the “cause of our Joy”. That is because she bore the One who is its source, Jesus Christ.
John stands as a sign for us today on Gaudete Sunday. He points out for each one of us the path to lasting joy; a lifestyle of self emptying called humility. “He must increase and I must decrease”. This lifestyle of love of God - before love of self - leads to continual conversion and transformation for those who respond to grace. On this Sunday we find the essence of the Advent season presented in every aspect of our worship. We are invited to live our lives as joyful penitents - ever aware of our utter dependency on God’s grace. It is sin which leads us into slavery and takes away our joy. Only by being freed from it can we truly be happy.
God desires our genuine happiness. He invites us to choose Him and find the way to live in joy. In Jesus Christ he has given us all that we need to overcome the obstacles which impede us. Notice the language with which we discuss eternal life in the Catholic Church. We speak of receiving the “beatific vision” when we stand in His presence, finally free. The Sermon on the Mount invites us to live our lives differently now by living the “beatitudes”. The word “beatitude” actually means happiness! Living in the Lord, living life His way, is what will really make us happy. Yet we often associate repentance with some kind of wrong- headed self hatred. To the contrary, for those who have been schooled in its lessons, like John the Baptizer, the way of voluntary penitence becomes the path to true joy.
REJOICE! GAUDETE! The Lord is near. Let us prepare a place for Him to be born anew within our hearts, our lives and our homes. Let us hear the invitation of the Baptizer today and take the next two weeks to “clean the house” of our heart, making it ready for his birth. Let us choose to embrace by grace the way of humility and find the happiness of heaven - beginning right here on earth. St. Josemaria Escriva rightly proclaimed: “I am every day more convinced that happiness in Heaven is for those who know how to be happy on earth.” (The Forge, 1005) Amen!
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Pope Benedict XVI's Prayer Intentions for January 2013
General Intention: The Faith of Christians. That in this Year of Faith Christians may deepen their knowledge of the mystery of Christ and witness joyfully to the gift of faith in him.
Missionary Intention: Middle Eastern Christians. That the Christian communities of the Middle East, often discriminated against, may receive from the Holy Spirit the strength of fidelity and perseverance.
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