This is a guest post by Laura Tringali.
Brothers and sisters:
Rejoice in the Lord always.
I shall say it again: rejoice!
Your kindness should be known to all.
The Lord is near.
Have no anxiety at all, but in everything,
by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving,
make your requests known to God.
Then the peace of God that surpasses all understanding
will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.
– Philippians 4:4-7
“Rejoice in the Lord always. I shall say it again: rejoice!” The second reading from Sunday’s Mass from Saint Paul to the community in Philippi sums up this third week of Advent. Gaudete, rejoice! Our God is with us. Our savior is near. Saint Paul captures the heart of a Christian life in that second reading.
First of all, rejoice – that is the most important thing not only in this season of Advent, but always. God’s love for us, demonstrated so perfectly through Jesus, is reason to hope and rejoice through any trials we endure in this life. Saint Paul writes: “Rejoice in the Lord” not because of the Lord. We ordinarily connect rejoicing with good things happening to us or to a loved one. We can rejoice because of many things – whether it is Christmas parties and traditions that bring us excitement or milestones in our lives or careers. But our joy in the Lord has deeper roots. To rejoice in the Lord implies union with Christ, the source of true joy. A poetic passage from Paul’s letter to Christians in Rome points out that nothing in the entire universe can take away our joy – no difficult circumstances, no loss, no suffering. Nothing can separate us from the love of God that comes to us in Christ Jesus, our Lord (cf Rom 8:38-39).
How do we live as a “joy-full” people? Saint Paul calls us to action. “Your kindness should be known to all.” What does that mean for you? In your family? In your marriage? At your job? At school? In your community? At your parish? How do you live your joy in the Lord? Perhaps your joy gives you patience or perseverance on a tough day. Maybe it compels you to go out of your way to show kindness to or act in service of someone else. As we reflect in this season of Advent on the incredible expression of God’s love in the birth of Jesus, I invite you to consider how our joy in the Lord is and can be present in our day-to-day lives and pray with me – “Lord, how can I live your joy this day? Help me to see opportunities to bring your love into the world through my kindness. Let my joy in you be known through my actions.”
Finally, the next line Saint Paul wrote is almost humorous to read this close to Christmas – particularly for parents. “Have no anxiety at all.” About a week ago, I heard someone on the radio talking about how the most stressful part of holiday shopping is finding a parking spot. My honest, first reaction (showing my true Millennial colors)? It did not cross my mind once this year to physically go to a store to buy gifts. Paul wasn’t talking about our Christmas shopping. But it is not irrelevant: There are always things to be stressed about and there always will be. Paul’s message rings true: The Lord is near so have no anxiety. With a grateful heart, trust God and entrust all your needs to God. God will give you peace. Serenity, or interior peace, is often the mark of the joy that we have “in the Lord.”
This is who we are as a Church. This is our Good News – we have something to say about it and something to do about it. Let’s live into that identity. Let’s rejoice in the love of God, live the love of God, give our needs to the love of God, and have peace in the love of God.
Laura Tringali, born and raised in Hershey, PA received her BS in Psychology with minors in Nonprofit Studies and Classics at The Ohio State University. She then went on to earn a Master of Theological Studies at Boston College School of Theology and Ministry concentrating in New Testament Scripture. Laura now works as a Youth Minister and Director of Confirmation at a parish just outside of Boston.