From the Deacon’s Desk: Prayer and Inspirational Thoughts
“! Rejoice heartily in the Lord, in my God is the joy of my soul:” – “My soul rejoices in my God!” – “Rejoice always…in all circumstances give thanks!” – “the Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to bring glad tidings to the poor!” Joy is the resounding theme of this third week of Advent. We begin to see the light and anticipate the coming of the hope we contemplated last week – the hope of Jesus Christ. In the Gospel, with great zeal and even greater humility, John testifies to the light – the light, the hope and the joy of Jesus Christ! Jesus comes – not just to that time, but to our time to be present with us. Christmas is a time of movement from the darkness to the light as Christ enters the world that he might open the doors to salvation. He brings glad tidings to all of us! Our God does not abandon us! He does not leave us! He went to great lengths and great sacrifice to be with us and when he feels a little distant, it is only because we move from Him. Every Advent we are reminded again that He continually seeks us out and calls to our hearts. He comes again with great joy – the great joy of the Good News. Just as John was a witness to Jesus’ coming, this Advent we ought to be witnesses to Christ already present in the world.
We are called to do the work of the Lord just as John did. We are not Christ, but we witness to his goodness and mercy. For he is both here in our midst and awaiting for us at the eternal banquet. In Paul’s letter to the Thessalonians, he invites us to live in joy, prayer, and thanksgiving, for this is what God wants of us. God gives us holiness in our lives through thee Holy Spirit. One of our primary responsibilities as Christians is to show the face of Christ in our individual existence by using the gifts he gives us to their fullest extent. We are called to make the Lord present and active in our lives and in the lives of those around us. Now more than ever we need to work to have the joy of Christ shine through us in our daily lives. We are called to do all of this with joy – even in times of great challenge because we know and trust in the hope of Christ which will overcome all.
It is the joy which resides within each of our hearts. The joy we were given at Baptism when we received the light of Christ. The joy we hear from Mary who had the greatest joy ever, when she announces “My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord. My spirit rejoices in God my Savior.” We rejoice, not so much that we have found Christ, but rejoice that He has found us. The question is asked of John, “Who are you?” It is a question for us as well. “Who are we?” We are God’s people and we come to testify to the light. We are not the light but the light of Christ resides in us and shines through us, and burns brightly within us! It is the light which shows us the way out of the darkness and into the joy, the hope, the love of God our Father.
As Vincentians, this compels us to reach out in charity and love to help others who are hurting – to bring God’s love and hope to them through our very presence. And we are called to bring the great joy of the Good News. We are called to make the Lord present and active in our lives, in the lives of those around us, and in the lives of those we minister to. Now more than ever we need to work to have the joy of Christ shine through us in our ministry. Friendship, shown through caring deeply about the person – more than the situation – and delivered with patience, kindness and compassion can provide the greatest gift of all – the joy of Christ! Do I make His presence come alive for those whom he brings before me? Do I allow my ministry to be led and inspired by the Spirit? Do I do so with joy in my heart?
Father, grant me the grace to witness effectively and to testify to your presence and goodness. Allow me to not ‘quench the Spirit’, but rather to be inspired by the Spirit listening always to your will for me. Help me to grow in patience, understanding, kindness and compassion that I might care deeply for and focus on the person more than the situation. Help me to proclaim your name rejoicing always in your presence and goodness! I pray all of this in your Son’s name. Amen