Being Joyful
3rd Sunday of Advent

Antonio P. Pueyo
Reproduced with Permission

Today is Gaudete Sunday. The Latin word means, “Rejoice”. On this third Sunday of Advent, the rose-colored candle is lighted. This is a liturgical symbol of the joy of salvation that Jesus the Messiah brings.

Action starter: What do you consider as your wealth in life?

I looked up the meaning of “joy” in my computer. Joy is translated here as glee, happiness, and rapture. I venture to describe joy as a heightened and positive state of emotional, intellectual, and spiritual well-being. Most of us may have experienced such moments – fleeting or sustained. Joyful moments are events like the homecoming of a beloved, receiving a promotion, winning the lottery, or getting a visa for the U.S.A.

These are moments of joy that come with positivie events and that last for a while. But, is there a more sustained sense of joy? Is there a joy that is not dependent so much on external events? Is there a joy that stays no matter what the environmental circumstances are?

Literatures on the spiritual life speak of the “joy of the saints” as more sustained and lasting. Francis of Assisi is called the joyful saint. This sense of joy was with him, despite the physical pains of hunger and the stigmata or wounds of Jesus on his body. His sense of joy came from the assurance that all will be well in God’s providence. His joyful attitude goes hand in hand with thanksgiving for all of God’s gifts in creation. He is thankful for Brother Sun and Sister Moon. He is thankful for the flowers that bloom and the birds that fly. He is even thankful for the approach of Sister Death.

Contemporary critics might see these examples as the romaticism of Francis. We cannot deny however that the joy of Francis has caught the world’s imagination. In the past seven hundred years, thousands of books have been written about him. The joy of Francis infects people. His is the epitome of Christian joy.

As we celebrate this Sunday of joy, may we have the joy of Francis of Assisi. It is a joy based on faith, that God in His provident way will take care of his people. It is a joy based on hope, that in God’s plan all will be well. It is a joy based on love, that happiness consists in loving and being loved.

The message of Gaudete Sunday is that we find true happiness when we allow God into our lives. When that happens then our priorities also shift. We will discover that true happiness does not depend on accumulation of wealth, accolades, and praises, True happiness consists in being faithful to God. True happiness lies not on consumption of things but on loving people.

With the coming of the Christmas season, the consumerist culture dictates to us that our joy is in buying and gathering things. This materialist culture also desacralizes the Christmas event. It is time to remind ourselves where true joy lies.

St. Francis of Assisi was short on material things but he was rich in joy. He has discovered true wealth. Happiness is to welcome God. It is to allow Jesus to fill in what is lacking in our life. It is to acknowledge Him as Savior.