“The Christian message is called the ‘Gospel,’ that is, ‘the good news,’ an announcement of joy for all people; the Church is not a refuge for sad people, the Church is a house of joy.” – Pope Francis
Scripture Text: (IS 35:1-6A, 10)
The desert and the parched land will exult;
the steppe will rejoice and bloom.
They will bloom with abundant flowers,
and rejoice with joyful song.
The glory of Lebanon will be given to them,
the splendor of Carmel and Sharon;
they will see the glory of the LORD,
the splendor of our God.
Strengthen the hands that are feeble,
make firm the knees that are weak,
say to those whose hearts are frightened:
Be strong, fear not!
Here is your God,
he comes with vindication;
with divine recompense
he comes to save you.
Then will the eyes of the blind be opened,
the ears of the deaf be cleared;
then will the lame leap like a stag,
then the tongue of the mute will sing.
Those whom the LORD has ransomed will return
and enter Zion singing,
crowned with everlasting joy;
they will meet with joy and gladness,
sorrow and mourning will flee.
The first reading today at Mass reminded me of one of my favorite Christmas songs, “Do They Know It’s Christmas?” written by Bob Geldof and Midge Ure. This song reminds listeners that not everyone is fortunate enough to celebrate Christmas with a snow-covered lawn, a good meal, and presents. One line in particular really illustrates this point, which states, “The greatest gift they’ll get this year is life.” Every year when this song comes on the radio, I am always struck by this line, because life is the greatest gift that we all have every year, but it is rare that we take time to really appreciate it. The reading today reminds us that we must, “Strengthen the hands that are feeble, make firm the knees that are weak, say to those whose hearts are frightened: Be strong, fear not! Here is your God, he comes with vindication; with divine recompense he comes to save you.” (Isaiah 35:3-4).
In order to do this, we must remember that our greatest gift is the life we have been given, and we must share with others the joy, hope, and happiness that the Lord has given us, which provides ourselves and others a reason to celebrate.