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Dec. 17th, 2023 | The 23rd Times

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A Message from Fr. Jay

Dear Friends,

Rejoice in the Lord always. I shall say it again: rejoice! (Phil 4:4)

In 2007, I attended a Partnership Meeting with ‘Secours Catholique’ (Catholic Charities of France) in Paris. After a weeklong meeting, I had a chance to celebrate a “Tamil Mass” (Tamil is my language) with the Sri Lankan Tamil Community outside Paris. In the Mass, after reading the Gospel, I started my homily…everyone was keenly looking at me. I gave a nice gaze with a graceful smile to the people gathered there. There was a four-year-old cute, pudgy girl who got my attention with her big smile. Then she chuckled a little, then started to laugh. I didn’t understand why she was laughing. So, I also laughed with her expecting her to stop. But the laugh continued….other kids started to laugh….then the elders…..the whole congregation started to laugh…I asked everyone if they knew why we were laughing…their reply to my question was more laughter. I could never escape from that continuous roaring of joy. It was pure joy and to date I never figured out the reason for the contagious joy. Yes… joy is contagious.

On this Gaudete Sunday we are thrilled with the joy of Christ coming soon. The readings reveal that joy is the work of the Holy Spirit. Anyone who is filled with the Holy Spirit will do the works of liberation (from sins) and practice humility to add glory to the name of the Lord. St. John the Baptist received the Holy Spirit for the first time from Jesus himself. When two mothers, Mary and Elizabeth, met each other, John the Baptist leaped with joy in the womb of Elizabeth. In the gospel today, he testifies about Jesus with utmost humility.

The commercial world around us wants to sell happiness to us. Everywhere we see slogans of happy holidays. This is not enough and somewhat incorrect. It is not the happy holiday that we are looking for, but ‘Joyful Christmas’. Only the Holy Spirit can bring that joy! Like John the Baptist, we are called to make our lives joyful. In the second reading St. Paul says, ‘Do not quench the Spirit’. Let this Christmas bring real joy, filled with Holy Spirit!

Blessings,
Fr. Jay Raju

I Reading: Isaiah 61:1-2a, 10-11
II Reading: I Thessalonians 5: 16-24
Gospel: John 1:6-8, 19-28