Monday of the Second Week of Advent
Today’s first reading expresses the excitement and anticipation of God’s coming into our midst. Notice where God’s blessings come about. In the desert and parched land. There in the desert the people will rejoice with joyful song. Isaiah had a radical vision of what it would be like to discover joy. It was joy found in the desert. The desert, usually a place of dryness, of emptiness, and of death, would suddenly come to life with joy. In his vision, he foresaw the coming of one who would offer us a new way of living, one who would bring us overflowing joy, one who would offer us salvation, hope, peace and joy.
During this Advent season it might help us to examine the places where we believe we can find joy, the places where we think our joy should be coming from. We would naturally think that our joy should come from family, friends, career, vacation, hobbies, entertainment or stuff. These places of joy seem natural to us. But often we come away empty. The world says you need more stuff. More stuff will keep you happy. And then your stuff starts to get old and needs dusting or repairing. It’s not as impressive (joyful) as it once seemed. Stuff doesn’t lead to lasting joy – the kind Isaiah was talking about. There are seasons when joy abounds in families. And it’s great. We should find joy in our family. But there are other times when family is less of a joy. When there is illness, when aging parents need to be cared for or a death occurs, when someone squabbles with someone else or disowns someone in the family. Then, family is no longer a joy. It’s work. It’s a burden.
Isaiah reminds us in a prophetic way what it’s like to have Christ come into our life. It’s like joy in the desert! Joy comes by welcoming the Christ child into your life, into your heart, and following in his new way of living, that gives true joy, joy overflowing, like streams bubbling up in the desert.
"I say to you, rise, pick up your stretcher, and go home." Pick up your disillusionments and disappointments, broken dreams and broken hearts and go home to Christ. Invite the King of Kings to be in residence in your life. Walter Knight wrote: "Joy is the flag that flies over the castle of our hearts, announcing that the King is in residence today."
Fr. Don Webber is Provincial Superior of Holy Cross Province and resides in Chicago.