A story is said of a man in a mission land, who was extremely critical of religion and religious practices.
Once, this man went to a missionary who had been in the place for some years.
He told the missionary, “I want to hear about your religion”
The missionary was pleasantly surprised, and asked him:
“Oh that’s great!
But how is it that you would like to hear of my religion. I have heard of your dislike and aversion to religious practices”
To that, the man answered:
“Well, it’s very true, that I don’t cherish religion.
But ever since the day you came to our place, I have been observing you.
You are always cheerful and happy.
I have also heard a lot of laughter in your house and in the houses of my village people, who have embraced your faith”
The man continued, “And if you have anything that makes people so joyous, I too want it!”
Joy was the nectar that attracted the man to experience the sweetness of Christ and Christianity.
>> Am I a person who radiates happiness?
>> Am I a Christian whose life exudes with joy?
The Gospel of the Day is the delightful description of the joyful encounter between Elizabeth and Mother Mary and the “joyful leap” of John the Baptist, in his first meet with Jesus, the God of Joy!
The Gospel is the beautiful meeting of Two to-be-Mothers, with Two Special Children in their wombs…
… Elizabeth, with John who would be called as the Baptist
… Mary, with Jesus, who would be called as the Messiah
This wonderful encounter begins on a Divinely joyful note:
“when Elizabeth heard the greeting of Mary, the babe leaped in her womb” (Lk 1: 41)
This is an interesting word – “leaped”
The Greek word for “leaped” is “skirtao”
We find the usage of this word “skirtao” in different places in the Bible…
>> In Gen 25:22: Rebeccah’s twin children – Jacob and Esau – “struggled (skirtao)” within the her
>> In Ps 114: 4, 6: The mountains “skipped (skirtao)” like rams in the presence of the Lord
>> In Mal 3:20: Those who fear the Lord’s name will “skip (skirtao)” like calves.
>> In Lk 6:23: The chosen ones should rejoice and “leap (skirtao)” for joy
When the mother, Elizabeth, heard the greeting of the Messiah’s Mother, the babe John, “leaped for joy”
Later in his ministry, John would testify to this fact, when he would say: “… the best man, who stands and listens for Him, rejoices greatly at the Bridegroom’s Voice” (Jn 3:29b)
There is great rejoicing, in Divine Presence is a powerful message that we receive.
>> The presence of the Mother of Jesus, delighted Her cousin, Elizabeth
>> The presence of Jesus, delighted His cousin, John.
As we gear up ourselves for the Season of Christmas, this ought to be a reflective question that we need to ponder and make amends, if lacking…
… Is our Christian life, one that “leaps for joy”?
Things around us may seem confusing and uncertain…
… just as it was for Mary who conceived of the Holy Spirit and Elizabeth in her old age
>> Yet, they were able to rejoice..
… because, their trust was in the Power of the Lord Who had blessed them
People may sometimes reject us, misunderstand us or even humiliate or be indifferent to us…
… just as it was for Mary who would face misunderstandings and Elizabeth who had undergone a lot of shame.
>> Yet, they were able to rejoice…
… because, their strength was in the favourable Love of the Lord, Who, they knew, had accepted and chosen them, for His cause
Life may sometimes make a fool of us by taking us through roads which are illogical, unreasonable and irrational…
… just as it was for Mary who had to tread unknown paths and Elizabeth who had to take on new responsibilities as a mother at an odd age
Yet, they were able to rejoice…
… because, their hope was in the faithful grace of God, in which they trusted and to Whom they had pledged their life in fidelity and loyalty.
Joy is to be the hallmark of every Christian.
As St Francis de Sales says, “A sad saint is a sorry saint!”
>> Our lives ought to be a “Gospel of Joy”!
As we get closer to the celebration of the Birth of the “Cause of our Joy”, we need to look into this dimension of Christian holiness: the aspect of Joy.
It is not simply a joy that is manifested..
… by some “plastic smile”
… or with some artificial activism
… or with any created humorous traits
Christian Joy is…
… a result of trusting deeply in the Providence of God
… a felt experience that manifests, effortlessly, in every aspect of life
… an honest expression of the inner peace and serenity – a fruit of the Holy Spirit.
Yes, Joy is to be the nectar that attracts others to experience the sweetness of Christ and Christianity.
May we always “leap for joy” with the Power of the Holy Spirit…
… and may our joyful and happy lives, attract and enthuse many people to embrace Jesus, the Lord of all Joy!
God Bless! Live Jesus!