Advent: a time of joy and hope

The liturgy of the Mass of this Sunday brings us the repeated recommendation of St. Paul to the first Christians of Philippi: Rejoice in the Lord always, I tell you again, rejoice1 and then the Apostle gives the fundamental reason for this profound joy: the Lord is near.

This is also the joy of Advent and of every day: Jesus is very close to us. He is ever closer. And St. Paul also gives us the key to understanding the origin of our sadness: our distancing from God, because of our sins or our lukewarmness.

The Lord always comes to us in joy and not in affliction. "His mysteries are all mysteries of joy; the painful mysteries are of our own making "

2 "Rejoice, full of grace, for the Lord is with you, " says the Angel to Mary. The proximity of God is the cause of the Virgin's joy. And the Baptist, not yet born, will manifest his joy in Elizabeth's womb at the proximity of the Messiah4. And to the shepherds the Angel will say: Do not be afraid, I bring you good news, a great joy which is for all the people; for to you is born this day a Savior...5. Joy is to have Jesus, sadness is to lose him.

The people followed the Lord and the children approached him (children do not approach sad people), and everyone rejoiced when they saw the marvels he was doing6.

After the days of darkness that followed the Passion, the risen Jesus will appear to his disciples on various occasions. And the Evangelist will point out again and again that the Apostles rejoiced to see the Lord. They will never forget those encounters in which their souls experienced an indescribable joy.

Rejoice, St. Paul tells us today. And we have every reason to rejoice. Indeed, we have the only reason: the Lord is near. We can come as close to him as we wish. In a few days Christmas will have arrived, our feast, that of Christians, and that of humanity, which without knowing it is looking for Christ. Christmas will arrive and God will be waiting for us with joy, like the shepherds, like the Magi, like Joseph and Mary.

We can be joyful if the Lord is truly present in our lives, if we have not lost him, if our eyes have not been clouded by lukewarmness or lack of generosity. When, in order to find happiness, we try paths other than the one that leads to God, in the end we find only unhappiness and sadness. 

The experience of all those who, in one way or another, have turned their faces elsewhere (where God was not), has always been the same: they have found that outside of God there is no true joy. There cannot be.

To find Christ, and to find him again, presupposes a profound joy that is always new.

Hablar con Dios