Last week I had the pleasure of attending Mass at St. John the Apostle Catholic Church in Lincoln, Nebraska. I love visiting new parishes, hearing a homily from a different priest and gaining the faith perspective of someone else.
It was the Third Sunday of Advent, and as the rose candle was lit, we were reminded of the “JOY” Christ’s birth has brought to us. As the priest shared his homily with us he began to talk about the Joy that knowing Christ brings to our lives and it made me think of how my faith shapes my life.
I sometimes feel that people misconstrue the observance of religion to mean that you must be solemn and serious to be reverent. I feel that this couldn’t be farther from the truth. I feel that our faith brings us such joy and what better way to spread that faith to others than through spreading joy! Advent is a particularly appropriate time of year to share the Joy of Christ’s birth with others.
I know that for myself personally, attending Mass brings me joy. Hearing the Gospel proclaimed, singing along with my brothers and sisters in Christ and holding the hands of loved ones and strangers and praying together gives me a sense of comfort.
I feel that our world is troubled and there are many that have either not heard the news of Jesus or worse yet, have heard the news and choose not to care. My faith brings me comfort knowing that I have chosen to follow Christ. I have chosen to share the news of Christ with others. I have chosen to raise my children in faith and to practice my faith on purpose. Making these choices brings Joy to my heart. I feel Christ’s love and presence in my life as I go through my days making my faith a priority.
During our Parish Mission, Father Ed asked us to share with those around us how we learned about faith and discuss who had been an example of evangelism in our lives. I shared with my husband that I had always felt God’s presence, I always felt His invitation to follow His Son and I felt as though I could talk with Him whenever I needed comfort. I wasn’t raised attending church, I wasn’t read the Gospel, I simply was open to being saved and that is exactly what God did. He saved me. I asked Him into my heart and I allowed His Joy to fill my soul.
My prayer this week is that others will open their hearts to Christ and will allow themselves to experience the joy of faith. I don’t want people to feel hesitant to offer their hearts to Christ for fear of sacrifice. You may like your current life style and worry that some of the activities you participate in might not be looked upon favorably by God, but I assure you that anything you are willing to walk away from to strengthen a relationship with Christ will be worth it. A life dedicated to faith and to serving others through Christ will be rewarded. A life of eternal bliss with God in heaven is worth any suffering or sacrifice we make for our brief time here on Earth.
I hope that you will make a choice this Advent to experience the Joy God so desperately wants to share with you. He sent His Son to save us, He created each of us to be Holy. He has given us freewill so that we might choose faith. As you make your way through this day, simply ask God to be present in your life and you will soon begin to feel His presence and Joy growing.