Sunday, December 16, 2007

Fr. James's Sunday Homily: Third Week of Advent

Rejoice Always!

The lighting of the pink candle of the Advent Wreath reminds us that Christmas is almost here. The theme of this Sunday’s liturgy is joy and St. Paul tells us to rejoice. “Rejoice in the Lord always; again I say, rejoice! The Lord is near” (Philippians 4: 4, 5).

What is joy? The dictionary defines joy as an emotion of great delight or happiness caused by something exceptionally good or satisfying. It is also defined as a state of happiness or felicity. In Catholicism, joy is a state of soul equated with happiness and it is also defined as one of the fruits of the Holy Spirit.

Joy is not to be understood as something superficial or immature. The person who is filled with Christian joy possesses an immense treasure because the true Christian can smile and laugh even in the middle of the most terrible adversities and sufferings. St. Lawrence, when he was being cooked alive by his torturers, joked and told them to turn him over.

Over the years I have noticed that the one main thing that our modern world is missing is joy. I see a lot of people walking around without a smile on their face. I have often asked myself what the cause of this problem might be. It seems to me that a lot of people are selfish, self-absorbed and even some are narcissistic.

Christianity is completely opposite to selfishness, self-absorption and narcissism. Christianity demands a radical reorientation of our personal lives. We must be empty of all self-seeking. “His state was divine, yet he did not cling to his equality with God but emptied himself to assume the condition of a slave, and became as men are; and being as men are, he was humbler yet, even to accepting death, death on a cross” (Philippians 2: 6-8). All throughout the Gospels Jesus tells us that we must die to self in order to be his disciples and he shows us over and over again how we must live our lives for others.

My dear friends, selfishness, self-absorption and narcissism are totally incompatible with Christianity. There are many things in our modern society that are causing... (Continued here.)

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