Sisters of Notre Dame California
Advent Reflection Series
Rejoice in the Lord – The Third Sunday of Advent
By Sister Mary Antonine Manning, SND
Pope Benedict XVI offers us some insights into Christian joy. We find in his book of meditations on the Gospels, The Joy of Knowing Christ, this message:
“Rejoice, be glad.”
This is the first word that resounds in the New Testament as such, because the angel’s announcement to Zachariah of the birth of John the Baptist is the word that still rings out on the threshold between the two Testaments. It is only with this dialogue which the angel Gabriel has with Mary that the New Testament really begins. We can therefore say that the first word of the New Testament is an invitation to joy: “Rejoice, be glad!” The New Testament is truly gospel, the good news that brings us joy. God is not remote from us, unknown, enigmatic or dangerous. God is close to us, so close that he makes himself a child, and we can informally address this God.
This is the great joy that Christianity proclaims. Knowing this God is truly good news, a word of redemption.
Perhaps we Catholics who have always known it are no longer surprised and no longer feel this liberating joy keenly. However, if we look at today’s world where God is absent, we cannot but note that it is also dominated by fears and uncertainties.
Dear friends, with an act of faith we must once again accept and understand in the depths of our hearts this liberating word: “Rejoice!” We cannot keep solely for ourselves this joy that we have received; joy must always be shared. Joy must be communicated. Mary went without delay to communicate her joy to her cousin Elizabeth. And ever since her assumption into heaven, she has showered joy upon the whole world. She has become the great Consoler, our Mother who communicates joy, trust, and kindness and also invites us to spread joy. This is the real commitment of Advent: to bring joy to others. Joy is the true gift of Christmas, not expensive presents that demand time and money.
We can transmit this joy simply with a smile, with a kind gesture, with some small help, with forgiveness. Let us seek in particular to communicate the deepest joy, that of knowing God in Christ. Let us pray that this presence of God’s liberating joy will shine out in our lives.
Consider this reflection question:
How will I make a commitment to share joy with all I meet this Advent?