Joy to the World!

Dear Friends in Christ:

Christmas is almost here! There is a joy in the air as we approach this great feast! Yet, no doubt, there are plenty of Scrooges who will want to rain on the parade and dampen the joy of our Holy Day with their pronouncements of “Ba Humbug!” These “prophets of doom and gloom” will relish in pointing out everything that is wrong in the world and that which isn’t perfect! They will attempt to guilt us and make us feel bad at the suffering that is indeed present and real. Some will point out how Christianity is a farce or how hypocritical and ignorant believers and people of faith are. Others will try, in subtle and not so subtle ways, to focus our attention on aspects of this Holy Season that are not holy at all. There are always those who wish to show their superiority by their judgement of “what’s the big deal?” To all of these folks, I simply say and invite you to join with me in saying, “The Lord be with you and Jesus loves you!”

There is much to be joyful and happy about. This great feast is the celebration of our salvation in Jesus Christ! By his incarnation and birth, the world has changed. History has changed! The Good News is that the world is not subject to condemnation and despair. Because of Jesus, Emmanuel, the Eternal Word of God, the Word made Flesh, the Only Begotten Son of God, born of the Virgin Mary, we have been redeemed!!! We have been given an escape hatch from eternal death. Jesus is our life saver! He is our savior from a destiny of destruction and a life of hopelessness. Jesus’ birth gives new meaning to all life. Shout it from the roof tops and carry it in your hearts every moment of every day, Jesus Christ is our Lord and Savior!!!

I find it a sad irony that the world when it sees problems, sees death as a solution. On the contrary, as Christians and disciples of Jesus, when we see problems and challenges, we see God offering us life as the solution. The birth of Jesus in many ways is a simple and almost insignificant retort by God to the world’s infatuation and clamoring for death. To a world that can be harsh and cruel, hateful and jealous, envious and self-centered, hard and uncaring, bitter and petty, God the Father does not answer with the eradication, destruction or death of those who perpetrate such violence and suffering. God answers the cruelty of the world with a tiny baby born in a backwards place at a backwards time in the most humble of circumstances. This baby is an almost imperceptible whisper of love against the roar and cries of anger and suffering. Even with the perspective of history, the end of Jesus’ life wasn’t much more impactful in a worldly sense than was his beginning. Being born in a manger and executed on a cross is not the best resume for one who seeks to remedy the ills of the world, except that it is.

What is the joy that fills our hearts? Is it only the presents under the tree, the gathering of family and friends, the spirit of friendship and caring? The true joy that is ours and for anyone who wishes to believe is Jesus himself. Jesus, not ourselves, is the source of our true happiness and ultimate joy. As Jesus himself told his disciples on the night before he died, that he desired that his joy maybe ours and that our joy may be complete! (Jn 15:11).

May you have the fullness of joy this Christmas. May you have Jesus and may Jesus have you!