By Nimmi Candappa
Joy to the world, the Saviour reigns. What a joyful tune to match the joyful words. How often do we pay attention to these words sung glibly during Christmas time? We can have joy because God reigns – in the world, in our life, in our hearts. It is easy to miss experiencing this joy, amid COVID, amid the violence in our world, the troubles that unsettle us, the expectations we place on ourselves, the anxieties that entrap us.
God has given us clues in finding this joy. “Truly I tell you, anyone who will not receive the kingdom of God like a little child will never enter it” (Mark 10:15). “You make known to me the path of life; in your presence there is fullness of joy….” (Psalm 16-11); “These things I have spoken to you, that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be full. This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you” (John 15:10-12).
To feel real joy, to be full of joy, the Bible tells us it helps to be like children in our trust and simplicity. It helps to follow God’s commandment to love one another. It helps to find ways of dwelling in the presence of God.
We know St Eugene trusted God implicitly as he established his order, following not what seemed sensible in the eyes of the world, but where his heart drew him. We know he spent time in the presence of God, so convinced of the importance of this to the success of his Order that he included time of contemplation as part of the daily Oblate routine. We also know love for the poor and the youth drove St Eugene. But how did St Eugene love the other when it was difficult to love?
One way was his immediate seeking of forgiveness. Known for a quick temper, St Eugene was also quick to seek the forgiveness of those subject to his temper. We cannot love the other when we think we are always right.
In a few days, as we gather to celebrate the birth of Jesus, and celebrate the presence of those around us, let us spend regular moments by our nativity set, in the presence of the Baby on whom the world depends. Let us be quick to seek forgiveness, in small and big things. Let us see if we can hand over to God, the success of our Christmas celebrations and get-togethers. So that we might have a greater focus on how much there is to love around us – people who know us and love us, good food and a spirit of fun, days off work to relax, the exuberance of children; and a God who loves us enough to want to be one of us. O come, o come, Emmanuel. Have a joyful Christmas.