Fr. Kurian KollapallilThe third Sunday of Advent is called “Gaudete Sunday” because the Mass for this Sunday begins with the opening antiphon: “Rejoice in the Lord always.” Be joyful, because we are preparing for the very joyful occasion of the birth of Jesus. We light the rose candle to remind ourselves that our joy is in God and in his son Jesus Christ. Like hope and peace, joy is a gift from God. It overtakes us and fills us when we remember what God has done and what he has promised to do. The true joy is the result of God’s grace; it comes from God and gladdens the heart and mind of the person to cause constant rejoicing. The true joy is the fruit of the Holy Spirit (Galatians 5: 22) and it becomes part of one’s life. Regardless of the life’s events, possessions and situations, true joy remains as a constant companion. Jesus wanted his disciples to know this joy that sustained and energized Him. It is not the joy of the material things, relations, easy life; instead it is a deep joy welling up from one’s heart and from one’s relationship with God.

Joy should not be confused with happiness. Happiness is “a state of well-being, a pleasurable or satisfying experience.” Happiness always depends on the external factors, whereas Joy comes from God and fills the hearts of anyone who is worthy to share that joy. True Joy is a gift from Christ. There are times people happen to witness to the awesome wonders of God and exclaim “WOW.” Often it is very hard to explain in clear terms.

True joy comes when a person realizes the greatness of God, and becomes aware of the nothingness of oneself. Humility is the ground on which Joy comes to rest. Joy descends upon us gently like the dew and stays when our minds are set free from the worries. One thing at a time is the password for joy. It is a present reality and it doesn’t depend on our past or future. It can be achieved only when we are at peace with ourselves and the world.

Blessed Virgin Mary was filled with Joy because she was humble enough to welcome Joy. She could count the marvels God has worked even in the midst of so much oppression and suffering. Mary realized it and she began to sing the praises of the Lord. She couldn’t keep her joy hidden, instead she ran to the hill country of Judah and she met her cousin Elizabeth and they both exulted in joy. Joy in its nature cannot be kept hidden, then one destroys it, instead it calls for sharing. The secret of multiplying and possessing it for longer consist in sharing it with others. The more you share your joy with others, the more it increases.

“There is a ‘joy not given sinners,’ one given those who freely seek You, who find You are their joy. This is true happiness in life, to take joy in You, for You, because of You- this, nothing else, is happiness. Those who do not know this pursue their joy elsewhere, and though it is no true one, yet they cannot wrench their desire entirely free from some representation of that joy.”

St Augustine