A Ribbon of Joy

Advent Reflection by Sr. Marie Lucey, Director of Advocacy and Member Relations

Originally published in our Dec. 8th weekly newsletter

Isaiah 61:1-2a, 10-11. Luke 1: 46-54. 1 Thessalonians 5:16-24. John 1: 6-8, 19-28.

“Rejoice!” From the Entrance Antiphon and Collect through the readings from Isaiah, 1 Thessalonians and the Responsorial Psalm, the word runs like a ribbon of joy: “Rejoice in the Lord always…”; …my God is the joy of my soul”; “My spirit rejoices in God, my Savior”; “Brothers and sisters, rejoice always.” Only the Gospel does not verbally bid us rejoice, but the ribbon of joy, unfurling through many years, leads to this joyful moment: John the Baptist’s testimony that the long-awaited One, the Light of nations and of history, has come and is among the people, although they do not recognize him.


Jesus does not appear in today’s Gospel. He waits in the wings for John to testify to his presence. Perhaps more than any of the contemporaries of Jesus, except for his mother, John the Baptist knew who he was and who he was not. Although he was a magnetic prophet who drew crowds, he had no illusions, no false self. He was not the leading man, but he rejoiced in his role as “one crying in the desert, make straight the way of the Lord.” Later in this Gospel, John will declare, “So this joy of mine has been made complete…” (3:29) Through my life experiences, my work on behalf of the Gospel, my prayer and contemplation, do I know who I am and who I am not? Do I embrace my true self and the role which is mine in spreading the “good news”?


On this Third Sunday in Advent, the Church insists that we rejoice. Why, given all the violence, cruelty, suffering and injustice in our world? The insistence is not a denial of the daily news, but an imperative to remember our precious Christian story centered in the Word Made Flesh because God “so loved the world,” so loves us. Pope Francis, keenly aware of our mission to bring hope and joy into this spirit-weary world, has given us the encyclical The Joy of the Gospel, which begins: “The joy of the Gospel fills the hearts and lives of all who encounter Jesus. With Christ, joy is constantly born anew.”


Our hearts may be heavy with personal sadness, our work may be frustrating, the daily news disheartening, but the scriptures call us to a joy deeper than sadness and discouragement. So, “Rejoice! …my God is the joy of my soul.”


Sr. Marie Lucey

FAN Director of Advocacy and Member Relations

Published in: on December 9, 2014 at 9:38 am  Leave a Comment  

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