Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Exult With All Your Heart

December 21, 2011

Wednesday of the Fourth Week of Advent

By Colleen O'Sullivan

Shout for joy, O daughter Zion! Sing joyfully, O Israel! Be glad and exult with all your heart, O daughter Jerusalem! The Lord has removed the judgment against you, he has turned away your enemies; The King of Israel, the Lord, is in your midst, you have no further misfortune to fear. On that day, it shall be said to Jerusalem: Fear not, O Zion, be not discouraged! The Lord, your God, is in your midst, a mighty savior; He will rejoice over you with gladness, and renew you in his love, He will sing joyfully because of you, as one sings at festivals. (Zephaniah 3:14-18a)

Our soul waits for the Lord, who is our help and our shield, For in him our hearts rejoice; in his holy name we trust. (Psalm 33:20-21)

Mary set out in those days and traveled to the hill country in haste to a town of Judah, where she entered the house of Zechariah and greeted Elizabeth. When Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting, the infant leaped in her womb, and Elizabeth, filled with the Holy Spirit, cried out in a loud voice and said, “Most blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb. And how does this happen to me, that the mother of my Lord should come to me? For at the moment the sound of your greeting reached my ears, the infant in my womb leaped for joy. Blessed are you who believed that what was spoken to you by the Lord would be fulfilled.” (Luke 1:39-45)


Maranatha, come, Lord Jesus. Let there be room in my heart when you arrive.


Usually at this point in the month of December, I am almost indistinguishable from the Grinch. I moan and groan about how much I despise the holidays. I stress over making cookies, over preparations for my annual Christmas party, over gifts yet to be bought or wrapped. My mind is full of everything in the world but what it should be - the coming of Christ into our lives.

This year I decided I didn’t want to have a party. My mom’s chair would be too empty. So, one big stressor checked off the list. Then I decided I would only bake cookies if I felt like it; otherwise, I told myself, bakeries make tasty ones, too. Item by item, I simplified all the Christmas preparations. I even took time for a 5-day retreat. Guess what? I shocked myself! I haven’t missed any of it, and by emptying my life of all the stress and needless hustle and bustle, I made room for joyful anticipation of the many ways in which Christ comes and will continue to come into my life. This year I am focused on Advent.

Our readings for today are all about joy. The prophet Zephaniah tells us that God rejoices over us, his beloved sons and daughters. He says God sings joyfully because of us. God renews us in his love. In turn, we can sing with joy, because God, our Savior, is in our midst.

The psalmist reminds us to rejoice in our God, who has been there for us through all generations. God is steadfast. When everything else in our lives seems to be in flux, we can trust in the Lord. God will be there for us, his people.

In today’s Gospel reading, we are told that Elizabeth’s unborn child leaps for joy at merely being in the presence of the Lord, Mary’s unborn son. No one as yet had ever even seen Jesus or come to know him! When was the last time you felt that kind of joy at being in the presence of Christ?


How long has it been since you truly experienced a joyful December? Untangle yourselves from the Christmas lights. Put aside the Christmas cards for a moment. Take a breather from Christmas shopping in the stores or online. The Lord is in our midst! Make time to rejoice!