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Spend yourself, joy will come. Spend it with Christ, your joy will last. | Word Alive

Daniel Torchia

Friday, December 10, 2021

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Spend yourself, joy will come. Spend it with Christ, your joy will last.

A reflection for the Third Sunday of Advent, Year C

by Daniel Torchia

How did you spend your day? That figure of speech has been on my mind lately. I can honestly say I had previously never given this phrase, especially the use of the verb spend, any thought until it came across my mind like a lightning strike a few weeks ago. In that flash, I was reminded that we’re called to spend things we have – all of it, given or earned – on others and in praise and glory to the One we are indebted to for everything. We hear about corporal works of mercy in the first part of this weekend’s Gospel: give away the extra tunic or food. This altruistic lifestyle, clearly prescribed in the Bible, does yield peace and satisfaction, but it’s not fool proof and certainly not always possible or achieved. But if we spend our days in relationship with Jesus and His Word, the Bible asserts we’ll find ourselves immersed in an inextricable joy.
Rejoice and exult with all your heart, O daughter Jerusalem!” - Zephaniah 3:14-18.
Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, Rejoice. Let your gentleness be known to everyone. The Lord is near. Do not worry about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” - Philippians 4:4-7
Staying intentionally focused on Jesus’s words and plan of salvation will, sooner or later, elevate us into the realm of mystical ecstasy or, if you will, BIG and LASTING JOY. Over the course of history, including my humble life, these passages from Sacred Scripture have proven to be true. So many saints and fellow faithful have witnessed to it. I’ve seen it in my own life; the more time I spend in God’s living word, meditative prayer of intentional gratefulness, the more I can love and feel alive no matter whether I’m helping the needy, sweeping my kitchen floor, or lying ill in bed.
Fear – a big obstacle in our way or a gift to harness?
A wise monk recently said these words to me: “Fear is very natural to humans – and needed. Regrettably, there is a lot of misplaced fear, especially today. It’s fear of the Lord that we’re wired for.” That kind of fear (more closely associated with wonder or reverence directed at God’s grandeur) is perhaps our most certain path to rock-solid, everlasting joy. We are called to fear the Lord. If we harness properly our inclination to fear (aligning it toward God), it leads to the peace and joy we hear about in this weekend’s readings. But we can only fear or revere God if we get to know him. The mere process of doing so gives us the graces and wisdom we need to not only get through the day but to find this priceless joy. Sadly, the wrong kind of fear is growing these days. Many people and groups are using fear as a strategy for their own gain. There’s even a marketing term being bandied about in boardrooms (and among youth), “FOMO”, or Fear Of Missing Out. Yikes.
So what do we do, especially during Advent, to find and spread peace and help people find the joy they are so desperately seeking? The readings of the Advent season offer us indications. Here are some that speak to me:
  1. Prepare the way of the Lord: purify our hearts
  2. Watch and look for him in the most humble and ordinary areas of life
  3. Read and learn about Him, following the Magi as models
  4. Listen to His voice, trust His word, and act on it in the model of St. Joseph
  5. Say yes and magnify His words and deeds, in the model of Our Blessed Mother
  6. Bring Him your gifts, even your song!
  7. Share your experience of Him with your neighbours, like the shepherds
Given the dominance of fear, increase in mental illness and addictions, and the expansion of the culture of death in our world, I’m sure you’ll agree it’s time for all of us to walk up the steps to the highest lampstand and share our light and joy with the world with charity and clarity. The world has set the stage for us to light our candles. With the darkness around us, a brightly lit candle can do a whole lot of good. This Advent and Christmas, let us hold even firmer to Jesus’ hand and resolve to encourage those around us to open the living Word of God – the Bible. Who knows, maybe like shepherds finding the Messiah in a manger, our loved ones can find peace and joy in what appears by our modern standards to be a humble book.
Happy Gaudete Sunday, everyone!

The readings for the Third Sunday of Advent, Year C, are
Zephaniah 3:14-18a
Philippians 4:4-7
Luke 3:10-18

Daniel Torchia, APR, is a Communications consultant who lives with his wife and children in Uxbridge, Ontario. From 2009 to 2011 he worked at Salt and Light Catholic Media Foundation.

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