Second Sunday of Advent
December 8-9, 2018
From Fr. Anthony Ligato
Where do you find your Joy?
Dear Sisters and Brothers in Christ,
Where do you find your Joy? That is a question I have asked those who are discerning a Vocation to the priesthood, Diaconate or Religious Life and a question I continually ask them as they move through Formation. As the Vicar for Vocations a considerable amount of my time is spent on what we call Human Formation, includes family of origin issues, selfesteem issues, interpersonal relationships such as friendships and coworkers. We address issues of health and wellbeing, this is particularly important for their future ministry. It is important to understand what the stressful demands in a Priests, Deacon or Religious Sister or Brother life. To understand how to balance the demands and stress’ of ministerial life, it is helpful to have insight and understanding of one’s self. This insight begins early in the discernment process, with psychological evaluations, ongoing counseling and Spiritual Direction. These evaluative and counseling tools help to balance the demands and stresses of those in ministry and help foster a deepening of the growth experience of Human Formation. When I am asking those in discernment where they find their Joy, the reason behind that question is to understand if the discerner reflects the joy of the Gospel in their lives.
As a parish priest I fulfill the same role for my parishioners; helping people to encounter the divine, which is the source of joy, and not allow stress and anxiety to overwhelm them. Where do you find your joy? Is it by living out the joy of the Gospel? Interestingly, it is easier for people to identify stress in their lives than it is to identify the joyful moments. I have found over the years as a priest helping people first talk about stress; such as the stress that comes from the Christmas season, not just the shopping and the business of Christmas, but the struggles of depression and loneliness, can help people identify the joy in their lives. So back to my original question, where do you find you joy? Let me help you, is your joy found in material things or in relationships? Joy can be experienced not only in relationships with people, but also in our relationship with God. For material joy passes away when something we bought no longer gives us excitement and fulfillment. The joy we have from our relationships with other people, such as a husband or wife, children, grandchildren, siblings and friends must be rooted in the
divine, because even in our relationships we are let down and disappointed from time to time.
The love that we have for others must be rooted in the divine love of God. We hear the expression of the divine love of God in the readings of the second Sunday of Advent. The prophet Baruch (5:19) goes so far to say, “Jerusalem, take off your robes of morning and misery; put on the splendor of glory from God forever.” This statement reveals the source of eternal joy in our lives, and the only lasting source of joy is God. Baruch goes on to say how God will reveal that joy, “For God will show all the earth your splendor; you will be named by God forever the peace of justice, the glory of God’s worship.” The revelation of that joy is Jesus Christ. This is the source of all our joy which is eternal and never can be taken away. As Psalm 126 reminds us, “The Lord has done great things for us, we are filled with joy.” The Lord has done great things for us, but we need to remind ourselves where our joy truly comes from, not from material things and not even from relationships with others but from our relationship with God. If the Advent Season and Christmas Season are shaping up to not being one filled with joy, let’s remember what God has done for us, “God has prepared the way of the Lord, God makes the paths straight and fills in the valleys and even makes the mountains low and all flesh shall see the salvation of God.” (Luke 3:16) If we are having personal, health or financial difficulties and the stress and anxiety is robbing us of our joy, remember the Lord has made the winding road straight and provided help along the way. If the obstacles of your life seem more than you can overcome, remember God has made the mountains low and will get you past the obstacles. If you are depressed and lonely, remember you have received the salvation of God. Take some time during this Advent Season to reflect on, “Where you find your Joy.” Share where your joy comes from with others and by doing so you prepare the way of the Lord; for joy you share comes from God!
Yours in Christ,