The Third Sunday of Advent, known as the Sunday of Joy, invites us to reflect on the often forgotten fruit of Christian Joy. In the Catechism of the Catholic Church Joy is mentioned as one of the fruits of the virtue of love, along with peace and mercy. Joy is not something that we can manufacture on our own, and it is not something that can be just given to us like a Christmas present. No one can give us Joy, and we can’t make ourselves feel Joy. So how do we attain it? The answer is hinted in the classification of Joy as a “fruit” of a life of love. Just like ordinary fruit (think of an apple or a strawberry), joy appears automatically provided that the right conditions are present. This means that we cannot focus on trying to attain “joy”, but rather we must focus on providing growth opportunity to our life of love. Think of love as an apple tree, and our life of faith as the soil, sun, and water. If our life of faith continues to focus on living God’s love in our lives, Joy will eventually appear without us trying to feel joyful. The best way I know to experience the fruits of joy, peace, and mercy, is to simply live a life of love towards God and our neighbour. And that life of love cannot be abstract, it cannot just be based on some emotional or rational conviction that I love God and people, that is not enough. Love needs to be expressed in concrete ways because we are physical beings and how we act with our bodies matters. Love, therefore, must be practical, measurable, and physical. If I am living a life of love I should be able to name ways in which I am choosing to love. Regarding our love for God, for example, a life of prayer is a concrete way to know that I love God. Spending time with God, with His Holy Word, going to Church: these are all concrete and measurable way that help us love God. Being kind, helpful, forgiving, towards one another is a concrete way to know we love our neighbour. Let’s take care of our loving actions, and the Joy will grow on its own. Happy Advent my beloved!
Fr. Wojtek Kuzma