In today’s Gospel, Mary goes to visit Elizabeth and the baby in Elizabeth’s womb leaps for joy. At Christmas time we sing “Joy to the World”. The shepherds hear the angels proclaim “Good News of Great Joy.” We are surrounded by messages of Joy at this time of year. Joy is a fruit of the Holy Spirit given to us. The Greek word for joy is “chara” which is defined as the natural reaction to the work of God, whether promised or fulfilled. This Joy is a feeling of inner gladness and delight. It comes from a recognition of the presence of God in us, in each other, and in the world around us. Possessing joy is a choice. When we open ourselves to receive this gift, the Spirit opens our eyes to see God’s grace in and around us even in the midst of difficult times.
As we head into the last week of Advent we invite you to focus on your internal Joy. Reminisce about a simpler time when you first felt the presence of Jesus Christ in your life. Were you a child or an adult? Did you feel the quickening of this newly lit fire in your belly when you thought of your Lord and Savior? Did this Joy propel you to give more, be more? Were you able to hold on to this fire regardless of external circumstances?
At the initial confirmation of the Dominican order the Pope declared the brothers would be “the champions of the faith and the true lights of the world.” Letting our lights shine as members of the Dominican family is what we are called to do. Although our circumstances may be hard or even insurmountable, we can draw on that initial flame of Joy. We cultivate it by adding fellowship, study and prayer- surely our flame will grow brighter as we move into the New Year! Spending quiet time this season thinking of the birth of Christ and His gifts to the world can ignite the Joy within us!