Yesterday was the third Sunday of Advent. The theme of the liturgy was "joy." In some churches, rose vestments were worn and rose candles were lit, as expressions of joy.
Quest for happiness
We human beings yearn for happiness. St. Thomas Aquinas pointed out that the perfect fulfillment of men is the source of true happiness. This perfect fulfillment cannot be found in riches, beauty, power, or fame. Human beings are fulfilled by the infinite good, God Himself.
St. Thomas pointed out that ultimate subjective happiness is the state of fulfillment and satisfaction in a person who has obtained the end for which he is made. Ultimate objective happiness is the reality which, when possessed, will render the person subjectively happy. God is our objective happiness, and our ultimate subjective happiness consists in possessing God in the beatific vision.
Foretaste of heaven
In the present life we can attain a degree of happiness, but not perfect happiness. Only God possessed in the beatific vision can make us perfectly happy. Here on earth, the more we love God, the happier we are.
The saints are the happiest people, and the secret of true happiness is the Commandments of God, which can be summed up by love of God and love of neighbour for God's sake. Joy is not a virtue, but the fruit of the virtue of charity.
In 1989 Father Timothy Dolan (now Archbishop of New York) ministered in Washington, D.C. Sometimes he assisted at a hospice for dying AIDS patients conducted by Mother Teresa's Missionaries of Charity.
One Holy Saturday a patient who used to be very violent and hateful asked for the sacrament of baptism. Father Dolan asked the patient to explain to him why he desired to enter the Church.
The man said, "I know nothing about Christianity or the Catholic Church. In fact, I have hated religion all my life. All I do know is that for three months I have been here dying. These sisters are always happy! When I curse them, they look at me with compassion in their eyes. Even when they clean up my vomit, bathe my sores, and change my diapers, they are smiling; when they spoon-feed me, there is a radiance in their eyes.
"All I know is that they have joy and I don't. When I ask them in desperation why they are so happy, all they answer is 'Jesus.' I want this Jesus. Baptize me and give me this Jesus! Give me joy!"
The man was baptized, and died on Easter Sunday.
I would like to share with you some sayings of Blessed Teresa of Calcutta regarding joy and its sharing:
"Joy is a net of love by which you can catch souls."
"A joyful heart is the inevitable result of a heart burning with love."
"Joy is very infectious; therefore, be always full of joy."
"Let no one ever come to you without leaving better and happier."
"Let us make one point, that we meet each other with a smile, when it is difficult to smile. Smile at each other, make time for each other in your family."
"Keep the joy of loving God in your heart and share this joy with all you meet, especially your family. Be holy - let us pray."
"Like Jesus we belong to the world living not for ourselves but for others. The joy of the Lord is our strength."