Tuesday, December 16, 2014

The Joy of Belonging to the Lord

Praised be Jesus, Mary, and Joseph!

Simbang gabi begins on Tuesday and we could almost feel Christmas. We may be excited over the increasing level of the celebrative mood and this may distract us from the true essence of the joy which the 3rd Sunday of Advent speaks of. We are given today the prophecy of Isaiah which was read by the Lord Jesus when he went to preach in the synagogue of Nazareth. The prophecy says: The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me. Obviously, Isaiah was prophesying about Jesus who is the Christ, the one anointed by the Spirit of God. The Holy Spirit sends Jesus to the poor, the brokenhearted, to captives and prisoners. Why the poor, the brokenhearted, the captives and prisoners? What do they have in common? For one, these people are sad because they feel neglected and forgotten. These are the people who have lost everything, (the poor) they have nothing, (the brokenhearted, the captives, the prisoners) they have no one. (And so, if you are brokenhearted this Christmas, know that Jesus was sent to you. If you are poor this Christmas, Jesus was sent to you. If you are captive of anything, if you are imprisoned by any addiction, know that Jesus was sent to you.) To them and to us, Jesus was sent to bring glad tidings, healing, and liberty. In other words, Jesus was anointed to bring Joy. The Holy Spirit is the Spirit of Joy and he anoints Jesus to bring joy.

But what joy does the Lord bring to us? It is the joy of belonging to God. It is the joy of knowing that God has not forgotten us and has not abandoned us. The proof that he has not forgotten nor abandoned us is that he sent his Son – his Son who is the manifestation of God’s tenderness, of his mercy and compassion. Jesus was sent to announce a year of favor from the Lord. The Lord favors us. The Lord remembers us. Because of this, we can sing: “I rejoice heartily in the Lord, in my God is the joy of my soul; for he has clothed me with a robe of salvation and wrapped me in a mantle of justice, like a bridegroom adorned with a diadem, like a bride bedecked with her jewels.” This joy is not the happiness of winning a million dollars which eventually will be spent and exhausted. It is the joy of being presented in marriage (the joy of a bridegroom adorned with a diadem, the joy of a bride bedecked with her jewels) – this is the joy of knowing that I am loved, the joy of knowing that I belong to someone. I am loved not just by anyone. I am loved by someone who is great, one whose greatness John the Baptist recognized: the one who is coming after me whose sandal strap I am not worthy to untie. This great God is in haste to come to me. This great God is in haste to bring me glad tidings. Nothing will prevent him from coming. St. Paul said: Do not stifle the Spirit (Huwag ninyo hadlangan ang Espiritu Santo). Let us not prevent God from bringing us his consolation. Let us not be afraid of his consolation. I have met a woman who was constantly tormented by the devil. She was in constant fear of happiness because the devil tormented her with the thought that if she experiences the slightest happiness, sadness would not be far behind. She was enslaved by this obsessive thought. Pope Francis tells us that we should never be afraid of the tenderness of God. We should not prevent him from giving us his consolations: “Do not be afraid because the Lord is the Lord of consolation, the Lord of tenderness. The Lord is a Father and he says that he will be for us like a mother with her baby, with a mother’s tenderness. Do not be afraid of the consolations of the Lord.” (Francis, Homily for MASS with Seminarians and Novices, Rome, 7 July 2013.) Let us never hesitate to meet the Lord Jesus for “the joy of the Gospel fills the hearts and lives of all who encounter Jesus. With Jesus Christ joy is constantly born anew.) (Evangelii Gaudium, 1.)

Jesus, I trust in you. O Mary conceived without sin, pray for us who have recourse to thee.

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