What makes us ‘leap for joy’?

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Word Alive — Fr. Bel San Luis, SVD December 19, 2021 / 4th Sunday of Advent

(Photo Credits to Fr Semie Rebayla SVD)

The fourth and last Sunday of Advent focuses on the personages surrounding Jesus, the center of our Christmas celebration: Mary, Joseph, and her cousin Elizabeth and Zacariah.

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I had a chance to visit the “hill country” called Ein Karem, the village where Zacariah and Elizabeth lived. Ein Karem is 90 kilometers away from Nazareth and, by foot, it took a week to travel. You can just imagine how difficult it was for Joseph and the pregnant Mary riding on a donkey to travel at a time when paved roads, cars, buses and trains were unknown.

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Despite the difficulty, Mary and Joseph took the sacrifice of visiting and assisting Elizabeth, her cousin, in giving birth to John, later the Baptist. Mother Mary could have excused herself, saying, “I can’t go. I’m conceiving, too.” But they went anyway. This is Christianity at its best—compassionate and sensitive to the predicament of others.

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I recall a personal experience. I went to see my doctor at the Lourdes Hospital in Manila. While there, I found out that an elderly SVD priest was confined.

After consultation, I dropped by to say hello. Upon seeing me, his face brightened and blurted out: “Oh, Father, how nice of you to visit me! Thank you, thank you.” (I didn’t tell him that my visit was unplanned and accidental).

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Anyway, we had a nice chat, reminiscing the good old days when both of us were assigned in the SVD Northern Province.

When it was time to leave, he said: “Father, remember this. When there’s a sick confrere you know nearby, don’t ever forget to visit him.” Incidentally, that was the last time we saw each other. Months after, he passed away.

That personal experience is just one of the numerous forms of compassion we can do—much like what Mother Mary and Joseph had done.

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There’s another message of the gospel wherein Elizabeth greets Mary. Filled with the Holy Spirit, she cries out, saying: “Why should I be honored with a visit from the mother of my Lord? For the moment your greeting reached my ears, the child in my womb leapt for joy.” The child in Elizabeth’s womb, John, was overwhelmed with joy at the presence of Jesus in the womb of Mary.

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On Christmas, what makes you “leap for joy”? Is it the coming of Christ to our world and redeemed us? Or, is it the Christmas bonuses, the gifts, Christmas parties and merry making?

If it’s the latter, then our joy is superficial, fleeting, and incomplete.

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The source of our lasting and greatest joy is–and should be–the reality that the Son of God, came into our world to redeem. Imagine, of all the planets and millions of galaxies in the universe, God chose our planet Earth. “For God so loved the world that He gave his only Son not to condemn the world, but to save the world through him” (Jn. 3,16).

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LAUGH ONE ANOTHER. There are four stages in a man’s life. First, when he believes in Sta. Claus. Second, when he doesn’t believe in Sta. Claus anymore. Third, when he is Sta. Claus. Fourth, when he LOOKS LIKE Sta. Claus.

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Spiritually Prepared? A soldier and his wife were preparing for the Baptism of their child when the chaplain arrived for the ceremony. Taking the father aside, the priest asked, “Are you prepared for this spiritual event?”

“I guess so, Father,” replied the soldier. “I’ve got a lechon, pickles, cake, cookies…” “No, no!” interrupted the chaplain. “I mean are you spiritually prepared?”

“Well, I don’t know,” said the soldier thoughtfully. “But would two bottles of whiskey, two cases of beer be enough?”

NOTE: That’s a different kind of “spirit.” Are you prepared spiritually for Christmas? Are you in the state of sin? Unforgiving? Selfish? Proud? Then, ask the Lord’s forgiveness.

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