Christian joy is rooted in our supernatural faith in Christ, not the passing things of this world.
Christmas is such an effortlessly joyful season. As the year winds down many people are eagerly anticipating a summer break. We are surrounded by reminders of this festive season, the Christmas carols on the radio and Christmas decorations in every shop. There is a spate of end of year Christmas parties and plenty of over-indulging to go with it! We take the time to exchange Christmas greetings with old friends and acquaintances that we, alas, often never get around to contacting during the rest of the year. All of this conspires to put us in a good mood.
And yet the real cause for joy in this season is the birth of Jesus. The name "Jesus" means "salvation" or "the Lord [Yahweh] saves". The name Jesus is given as a fait accompli by the Archangel Gabriel to both Mary and Joseph. Jesus' name is his mission. He comes into the world to save the human race from the tyranny of sin and evil that oppresses us and subverts the greatness for which God created us. Many people in the world, and indeed many Christians, seem to be oblivious to the fact that Jesus is their saviour. When we find ourselves in trouble, facing suffering and even death, we instinctively turn to money, science or governments to "save" us. God is usually an afterthought or a last resort at best. While these natural solutions to our problems can defer the suffering for a time they do not provide a permanent solution. Jesus is the only real solution to the existential human predicament, become only He can free us from the bondage to sin, which is the real root of human suffering - our separation from God.
The birth of Christ remind us that God takes the initiative in stooping down to us, not because of anything we did, but because he loves us and wants to break the fetters that bind us, and restore us to his friendship. Our salvation in Christ is the true source of our Christian joy. When trials and sufferings come our way (and they inevitably will!) we retain our joy because we are assured of God's desire to save us and bring us to our heavenly home.
May the joy, peace and abundant graces of the Christ Child fill your hearts and homes as we experience anew the nearness of God to us. Merry Christmas and every blessing for 2022.
Fr Francis Denton