“This is the day that the Lord hath made, let us rejoice and be glad in it.” Psalm 118:24
During this holiday season, we see many reminders to experience and spread joy. Whether beautifully inscribed on a holiday card, illuminated in a display, or sung cheerfully in a carol, joy is a focal point of this season. Joy is feeling of good cheer that we experience while celebrating our blessings. On a deeper level, we can also experience daily joy from simply being in God’s presence.
On any given day, we can think of so many things that bring us happiness and joy. Consider the happiness that comes with a child’s new toy, an unexpected card, or other thoughtful gesture. Reflecting on the past several months, one of the many activities that I have enjoyed has been walking outdoors. The warmth of the sun, the vibrant and varied colors of the flowers and leaves, the sound of children playing and the warm greeting of neighbors has brought me great joy during this challenging time. As the change in the weather approached, I anticipated that I may not experience the same joy in walking outdoors. Thankfully, I discovered new reasons for joy in the colder weather, and daily walks have continued to bring me great happiness.
Happiness is a predictable and pleasurable response to positive things and events. It brings a smile to our face and a warm feeling to our hearts. At the next level, joy surpasses happiness, in that it persists in spite of our circumstances. Many are looking forward to the end of the year 2020, due to its degree of hardship. These hardships have often overshadowed the many unexpected blessings that have also been revealed during this uncertain time. It has been difficult for us to experience loss and constantly wonder when we will return to “normal.” Surely, we will rejoice when that day comes! But, what about now? Can we rejoice now, and always? Yes, we can choose to rejoice, today and tomorrow.
During this Advent season, we recognize that we will continue to face some trials, and blessings will abound. Let us rejoice in knowing that we will soon celebrate the arrival of a gift, whose presence in our lives will bring us immeasurable joy. With Him, we can experience joy and contentment, despite our circumstances. We can find peace by trusting in His master plan.
Joy is an enduring gift that gives us strength and helps us to experience gratitude and jubilation. Let us all rejoice. Rejoice not only at the beauty and majesty of God’s creation, and all of the blessings that we receive, but also in our simple, sweet communion with Him. Rejoice in fellowship with friends and family! Rejoice at the hope of our future! Rejoice in peaceful moments! Rejoice in serving others! I believe that the Apostle Paul wrote it best, “Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again, rejoice!” Phillippians 4:4
Warm wishes for a Merry Christmas – and a joyful New Year!
Catholic Charities Community Services Division Director