Sunday, December 16, 2012

Advent Calendar - December 16, 2012

Zephaniah 3:14-18a; Philippians 4:4-7; Luke 3:10-18

Reflection by Sister Catherine Duenne
Teacher, Notre Dame Academy, Louisville, KY

There are people I have met who seem so filled with joy that it’s almost as if they don’t have a care in the world. After I get to know them, however, I’m shocked to hear the truth and to realize some of the struggles they have endured. Even though they may radiate joy, their lives are actually filled with hardships and struggles. Just like everyone else. None of us is immune to suffering, but what matters is where we put our trust.

My mom is an example for me of one who finds peace even in the midst of struggles. When she was first diagnosed with Huntington’s, I would hear her constantly repeat, “I guess the good Lord knows what he’s doing.” None of us wants to experience pain or loss of any kind, but it’s part of life and part of the price we pay when we choose to follow Jesus. In order to be raised to new life, we first have to follow Jesus to the cross.

We could try to live our lives free of pain, but in the end, it will only make us weak. Through the difficulties I have encountered, I have become stronger and more aware of what others are going through. I believe those who live a joyful life in the midst of their suffering have found the peace of God mentioned in today’s second reading. “Then the peace of God that surpasses all understanding will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus” (Phil 4:7). Through our struggles we are made strong and become more aware of the needs of others.

There are many things in life that we would not choose but would rather avoid if we could. Since this is not possible, the question becomes how will we respond. The peace of God is there. Are we able to allow God’s peace to embrace us so we can radiate peace and joy even in the midst of hardships and struggles?

As we celebrate Gaudete Sunday, let us realize that it is not the absence of pain that brings joy. It is our foundation, built solidly on Jesus Christ, and the awareness of God’s constant and unconditional love and presence that truly bring joy.

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