The clearest message that comes to us in the 3rd Sunday of Advent is ‘Kuxal Ravat’ i.e. (Konkani) ‘Always be joyful.’ (Philippians 4:4) Is it is easy to be joyful always?
As the chapter goes on to unfold, it tells us the Lord is near. It advises us to tell God all our needs in prayer and gratitude, and the peace of God which is beyond understanding will guard our hearts and thoughts.
As we enter the final days of 2015 it is wise to remember that no matter what, it is worthy to be happy. The accompanying reading from Zephaniah 3 is unequivocal on this score, ‘Shout for joy, daughter of Zion . . . Yahweh is king among you.’
The birth of a baby brings immense joy to all -- more so the Christ child. The Santas are out in the market and the decorations entice one and all. But beneath the glitz it is time to ask are we really happy? So many forage for food to eat. So many have been laid low by war, a natural calamity, terrorism or ill health. So many are not here with us to celebrate this Christmas. In fact, just observing Christmas may heighten the grief and loss of a loved one.
A few days back there was a music programme ‘Son Born.’ Indeed a son is born unto us who is Jesus the Saviour. Packaging the event by that name wittily alludes to ‘Sunburn’ the arguably hedonistic signature event held annually around this time in Goa and which attracts a host of youth to Vagator beach. The events could not be more poles apart. Still, Son Born is an initiative which appeals to the faithful to return and reassess their spiritual moorings. Publicity posters could be seen at Old Goa too for the feast Mass of St. Francis Xavier.
It is significant that the Gospel for the Mass today from Luke 1 celebrates the coming of Jesus through the interaction of two women both of whom are with child, viz. Mary, the mother of God and Elizabeth whom she goes to meet. When Mary greets Elizabeth, the child in Elizabeth’s womb leaps for joy. Because she is carrying the Creator, this communication by Mary is creative and has power, and divine dynamism. (God’s Word 2015).
If we prepare to welcome the baby Jesus in our homes and hearts we need to be equally transformed as Elizabeth and Mary were. Our respect and regard for women is heightened as we see God at work in them, for only a woman knows what it is to bear a child – or not to have one. Disregarding her own discomfort Mary travelled to assist the older Elizabeth. The result was that both felt sanctified and joyful. They were happy in acknowledging the presence of God in their lives.
There is a great joy in reaching out to others. A kind word, a helping hand, a timely act. This Christmas and beyond be happy helping others. Kuxal Ravat.
Published in Gomantak Times Weekender, St. Inez, Goa on Sunday, 20 December 2015. Pix taken by author from home at Devashri Garden, Porvorim on 30 December 2015.