In the Old Testament, when the prophets spoke about the coming of the messiah their words expressed great joy. In the book of prophet Isaiah, we have many passages which express the joy of messianic time. This may be the reason, why the first reading for the liturgy of advent season is mostly taken from the book of prophet Isaiah.
The prophet Isaiah joyfully addresses the awaited Messiah: “You have multiplied the nation; you have increased its joy” (9:3).
He exhorts those who dwell on Zion to go forth and meet him with song: “Shout aloud and sing for joy!” (12:6).
The prophet tells those who have already experienced the joy from afar to bring the message to others: “Get you up to a high mountain, O herald of good tidings to Zion; lift up your voice with strength, O herald of good tidings to Jerusalem” (40:9).
All creation shares in the joy of salvation: “Sing for joy, O heavens, and exult, O earth! Break forth, O mountains, into singing! For the Lord has comforted his people, and will have compassion on his suffering ones” (49:13).
In the New Testament, in a special way in the Gospel Luke, we have many passages; which we listen in the advent and Christmas season, show the joy of those who encountered the Messiah.
“Rejoice!” is the angel’s greeting to Mary (Lk 1:28). Mary’s visit to Elizabeth makes John leap for joy in his mother’s womb (cf. Lk 1:41). In her song of praise, Mary proclaims: “My spirit rejoices in God my Savior” (Lk 1:47). Zechariah sings with joy; “Blessed be the Lord God of Israel, for he has looked favorably on his people and redeemed them” (Lk1:68). The shepherds after seeing the child Jesus returned, glorifying and praising God (Lk2:20).
In the Gospel of John, Jesus himself tells us about the joy he wants to give us: “I have said these things to you so that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be complete” (Jn15:11). Before his suffering and death, he told to his disciples; “You will be sorrowful, but your sorrow will turn into joy” (Jn16:20). Again he said; “But I will see you again and your hearts will rejoice, and no one will take your joy from you” (Jn16:22). After the resurrection Jesus, the disciples “rejoiced” (Jn20:20) at the sight of the risen Christ.
The book of Acts of Apostles tells us about the joy of first Christians; “They lived with glad and generous heart”(2:46). ). Wherever the disciples went, “there was great joy” (8:8); even amidst persecution they continued to be “filled with joy” (13:52).
Pope Francis in his first apostolic exhortation, “The Joy of Gospel” asks, “why should we not also enter into this great stream of joy?” This is a good question to think over as we are preparing for the feast Christmas. Let us not allow our selfishness, sinfulness, the cares of the world etc…to deprive us the Joy of Gospel which Jesus gives to us.
About the Author:
Fr. Binoy Puthusery, C.M. is a Vincentian priest belonging to the Southern Indian Province. He was ordained as priest on December 27, 2008 and soon after served as an assistant parish priest in Tanzania. In 2011, after two years of ministry, he was appointed as Spiritual Director to the Vincentian Sisters of Mercy, Mbinga Tanzania, where he still is today.
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