"People are made for happiness. Rightly you thirst for happiness. Christ has the answer to this desire. But he asks you to trust Him." - St. Pope John Paul II: (was Pope from 1978 to 2005)
Gospel Text: (Lk 7:19-23):
At that time,
John summoned two of his disciples and sent them to the Lord to ask,
“Are you the one who is to come, or should we look for another?”
When the men came to the Lord, they said,
“John the Baptist has sent us to you to ask,
‘Are you the one who is to come, or should we look for another?’”
At that time Jesus cured many of their diseases, sufferings, and evil spirits;
he also granted sight to many who were blind.
And Jesus said to them in reply,
“Go and tell John what you have seen and heard:
the blind regain their sight,
the lame walk,
lepers are cleansed,
the deaf hear, the dead are raised,
the poor have the good news proclaimed to them.
And blessed is the one who takes no offense at me.”
Hope and joy comes from experiencing mercy and the promise that we will never be alone, that God's love endures forever. That confidence is so freeing. As the joy grows, we can actually feel the self-absorption fall away. We can sense ourselves no longer carrying the same burdens. Our hearts begin to become sensitized again to notice and care about the suffering of others. Our own Advent hope is the "glad tidings" we have to share with others. The "gifts" we have to give to others, for the world, are more about our hope and joy, to lift others' spirits, to allow us to be a community which cares for each other. Yes, we have great differences and deep divisions, and we've almost been trained by our culture to demonize each other - the ultimate self-absorption. With hope and joy come freedom to pay attention to what disturbs others and leads to anger and even hatred. We can be Advent people when we move to heal and comfort, to have compassion on those you are wounded and rejoice that our God is near, in fact, always with us, with all of us.