Prepare the way of the Lord; make straight His Paths.
My Dear Friends in Christ,
These words of John the Baptist echo the prophet, Isaiah. These two heroes of Advent exhort us to prepare for the Lord that we may Choose JOY. Last week, we started this message series by exploring what JOY is. Joy is not happiness. Happiness is a feeling, based on our circumstances. Joy is something much deeper, much stronger, less malleable, less dependent on changing circumstances or fickle feelings. As simple as it is to define, JOY is not easy to attain. Joy can’t be bought, and it doesn’t just happen.
Joy must be chosen.
It starts with our determination to look for God’s presence in our lives, and then finishes with our trust in God to get us through, even and especially in the storms. Joy is a choice we make in full awareness of our situation, recognizing that God’s Presence may not make things easier but can strengthen and help us through the storm. Nor can Joy be maintained without peace, patience, and prayer and, over the next few weeks, we’re going to look at each of these components. This week, it’s peace.
Isaiah uses beautiful imagery to speak of God’s peace demonstrating that God’s peace is more than a time of quiet inactivity. Peace is not merely the absence of violence, but a force itself, a force, not of domination or brute strength, but a strong, driving force that pushes beyond mere quiet to bring about tranquility, harmony, completeness. We can also say that this force of peace is the very presence of God. It is shalom. Shalom is peace, harmony, wholeness, completeness, prosperity, welfare and tranquility, right relationship with God that leads to harmony and reaching out for the good of the other. It’s why Jews use this word as a greeting, both on coming together and on parting.
Your homework this week is to find time in your busy calendar and spend it for and with God. I know time doesn’t grow on trees and you’ll need to work at it to scrape some up for God. Maybe it’s attending the Live Nativity next Saturday, December 7 at 2:00 p.m. Maybe it’s reflecting on the daily readings, praying as a family, spending some time lighting the Advent wreath, or sharing with your family at dinner. Maybe it’s the sacrament of reconciliation; receiving God’s mercy can help make a new start. Use the time, create space to pray for and receive God’s peace. God looks to share that with you and help you recognize His Presence and choose JOY.
Whatever it takes, even with all there is to do in this busy season, make the space for God to give you peace that you can choose JOY.
Whatever it takes, even with all there is to do, make some space for God to give you peace that you can choose JOY. It doesn’t mean that things will be easier, but that you’re intentional about choosing JOY. Shirk darkness; choose Light. Bypass cynicism; choose Christ. Avoid sin; choose Joy.