“We are writing this so that our joy may be complete.” – 1 Jn 1:3
If I’m being honest with myself, I prefer reflecting on my faith during Advent and Lent. I learned this about myself when looking at the readings for today. I sat staring at the readings thinking about how they inspire me to be better. How do they enforce my longing for Christ? It feels easier to look to Isaiah or John the Baptist and proclaim “prepare the way of the Lord.” Instead, the longing is over, Jesus has been born. We find ourselves in the season of Christmas. With that, as John’s Gospel proclaims, our salvation is also here: let us be joyful!
Yet, for a season that is supposed to be joy-filled, the stress of the holidays often takes over. Travel, consumerism, family, and many other distractions can draw us away from this time of joy. Still, John calls us to attention. He reminds us of a joy of vindication. For so long, the Jews awaited the Messiah to come redeem them. His joy is overwhelming! It is the very reason he writes. It begs the question of how I live out my own joy. Does my life exude the joy that John found in knowing the salvation brought by the Messiah? I’m not sure that it does.
Joy is a powerful thing. It drives John to outrun Peter to Jesus’ empty tomb. John’s joy also inspires him to spread Jesus’ message throughout the world. His joy calls him to leave behind his family and set out onto a new life. Joy can be scary. As John demonstrates, joy calls us to places unknown and unimaginable. Often, I would rather be cynical and comfortable than joyful and adventurous. Yet, we are called to be joyful. We are called to live our lives in the same joy that drew a young man to leave his world behind and share the Good News with the world!
Do I find myself living my life out of joy?
Am I more apt to complain about my life?
Where might my joy take me?