Where to Find a Deep Abiding Happiness

3rd Week of Advent: The Joy of Advent

By Francis Fernandez-Carvajal

1/15.1 Advent: a time of happiness and hope. What happiness is – being near Jesus: unhappiness – losing him.

The liturgy of Sunday's Mass repeated the words of St Paul in which he urges the first Christians of Philippi: Rejoice in the Lord always; again I say, rejoice.[213] And the Apostle goes on to give the basic reason for this profound happiness: the Lord is at hand.

This is also the joy of Advent, and that of every day: Jesus is very near us. He is nearer every day. And St Paul gives us the key to understanding the origin of any unhappiness we may feel: it comes from our putting a distance between ourselves and God, through our sins, through tepidity.

Our Lord always brings us joy and not affliction. His mysteries are all joyful mysteries, the sorrowful mysteries we bring on ourselves.[214]

Hail, full of grace, the Lord is with you,[215] said the Angel to Mary. It is the nearness of God which makes the Virgin rejoice. And the nearness of the Messiah will make the unborn Baptist show forth his joy in the womb of Elizabeth.[216] And the Angel will say to the shepherds: Be not afraid; for behold, I bring you good news of a great joy which will come to all the people; for to you is born this day a Saviour ...[217] Joy is to possess Jesus; unhappiness is to lose him.

The people followed Our Lord and the children gathered around him (children do not gather round gloomy people), and all the people rejoiced at all the glorious things that were done by him.[218]

After the dark days that follow his Passion, the risen Jesus will appear to his disciples on various occasions. And the Evangelist will be pointing out over and over again that the Apostles were glad when they saw the Lord.[219] They will never forget those meetings which filled their souls with such indescribable joy.

Rejoice, says St Paul to us today. And we have good reason for doing so, and one surpassing reason, above all: The Lord is at hand. We can come close to him whenever we want to. In a few days it will be Christmas, a great feast for us Christians, but also for the whole human race, which, without knowing it, is looking for Christ. Christmas is coming, and God wants us to be joyful, like the shepherds, like the wise men, like Mary and Joseph.

We shall be full of joy if Our Lord is really present in our life, if we have not lost him, if we have not allowed our sight to be clouded by tepidity or lack of generosity. When one attempts to discover happiness along other paths which lead away from God, all one finds in fact is sorrow and misery. All those who, in one way or another, ever turned their backs on God have had the same experience: they have proved that apart from God there is no true happiness. There can be none.

To find Christ, and to remain in his company, is to possess a deep happiness which is new every day.

[213] Phil 4:4

[214] P. A. Reggio, Supernatural Spirit and Good Humour

[215] Luke 1:28

[216] Luke 2:4

[217] Luke 2:10 11

[218] Luke 13:17

[219] John 20:20