December 20: Leap for Joy!

Published December 20, 2015 by Unprodigal Daughter

Sunday

In today’s Gospel, the Blessed Virgin takes a journey to visit her cousin Elizabeth in the hill country. They are both with child and excited to discuss their blessings.

If this scene can be summed up into a single word, it would be joy. This meeting is joyful for all parties involved. Mary is overjoyed to see her cousin, and to be pregnant. Elizabeth feels joy because she is in the presence of the Lord. Even John the Baptist, who is still in utero at this point, feels joy when Elizabeth and Mary meet. Scripture tells us that John actually leaps in Elizabeth’s womb, because he is experiencing the presence of Christ for the first time.

Too often, when we meet Christ in our everyday lives, we treat the meeting as ordinary. We do not jump for joy or act excited in any way. To be fair, we do not act miserable in the presence of the Lord either, but we probably could not describe our emotion as “joy.” Typically speaking, we shuffle through the motions when we meet Christ. We drag out feet, and do not act like we are filled with joy for our Savior.

In contrast, when we do show joy, it looks very different from our typical Christ-meetings. True joy is like an explosion. It is something that you cannot hide, no matter how hard you try. John the Baptist could not hide his joy as an unborn infant. We cannot hide our joy when we get something we have really wanted, or needed, or waited for for a long time. It is now time for us to demonstrate this kind of joy for our love for Christ. We waited for him, and we need him more than any material good. A good way to express our joy for Christ is to meet him in the sacraments.

When you take communion this Christmas, let your soul be filled with joy. Maybe you cannot jump up and down, but you can appreciate the cosmic gift Christ gives us–the gift of himself. Receiving the Eucharist is a love-filled celebration, not a boring task. 

Another way you can experience the joy of Christ is in the sacrament of confession. If you get the opportunity, go to the sacrament so that you can clear out the cobwebs of your heart before Christmas. Confession can fill your soul with joy when you recognize that no matter what you do, Christ forgives you and wants to have a relationship with you.

This Christmas, open your arms up to Christ. You may meet him in prayer, in the sacraments, or in Mass, but this time, when you meet him, allow yourself to be truly happy.

…and don’t forget to leap for joy. 

Opening Prayer

Lord Jesus,

Please forgive us for being so grumpy as we trudge through the never-ending tasks set before us this holiday season…
Our to-do list seems never-ending at times, with shopping, church services, and family gatherings—
and we’re running short of time!
Restore the joy of Christmas to our heart . . .
and help us to relax each day and make time for
YOU–
our one true Source of Joy.

(taken from http://www.thoughts-about-god.com/christmas/christmas_prayers.htm)

Daily Readings

Reading 1: MI 5:1-4A

Thus says the LORD:
You, Bethlehem-Ephrathah
too small to be among the clans of Judah,
from you shall come forth for me
one who is to be ruler in Israel;
whose origin is from of old,
from ancient times.
Therefore the Lord will give them up, until the time
when she who is to give birth has borne,
and the rest of his kindred shall return
to the children of Israel.
He shall stand firm and shepherd his flock
by the strength of the LORD,
in the majestic name of the LORD, his God;
and they shall remain, for now his greatness
shall reach to the ends of the earth;
he shall be peace.

________
Responsorial Psalm: PS 80:2-3, 15-16, 18-19

R. (4) Lord, make us turn to you; let us see your face and we shall be saved.

__
O shepherd of Israel, hearken,
from your throne upon the cherubim, shine forth.
Rouse your power,
and come to save us.
R. Lord, make us turn to you; let us see your face and we shall be saved.

__
Once again, O LORD of hosts,
look down from heaven, and see;
take care of this vine,
and protect what your right hand has planted
the son of man whom you yourself made strong.
R. Lord, make us turn to you; let us see your face and we shall be saved.

__
May your help be with the man of your right hand,
with the son of man whom you yourself made strong.
Then we will no more withdraw from you;
give us new life, and we will call upon your name.
R. Lord, make us turn to you; let us see your face and we shall be saved.

________________________
Reading 2: HEB 10:5-10

Brothers and sisters:
When Christ came into the world, he said:
“Sacrifice and offering you did not desire,
but a body you prepared for me;
in holocausts and sin offerings you took no delight.
Then I said, ‘As is written of me in the scroll,
behold, I come to do your will, O God.’“

First he says, “Sacrifices and offerings,
holocausts and sin offerings,
you neither desired nor delighted in.”
These are offered according to the law.
Then he says, “Behold, I come to do your will.”
He takes away the first to establish the second.
By this “will,” we have been consecrated
through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all.

____________________________________

Gospel: LK 1:39-45

Mary set out
and traveled to the hill country in haste
to a town of Judah,
where she entered the house of Zechariah
and greeted Elizabeth.
When Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting,
the infant leaped in her womb,
and Elizabeth, filled with the Holy Spirit,
cried out in a loud voice and said,
“Blessed are you among women,
and blessed is the fruit of your womb.
And how does this happen to me,
that the mother of my Lord should come to me?
For at the moment the sound of your greeting reached my ears,
the infant in my womb leaped for joy.
Blessed are you who believed
that what was spoken to you by the Lord
would be fulfilled.”

________________________________

Multimedia

Please watch this music video of Joy to the World/Joy Joy Joy.

Additional Activities

For more of a theological explanation of the use of the word joy, click here.

Closing Prayer

Loving God,
Help us remember the birth of Jesus, that we may share in the song of the angels, the gladness of the shepherds, and worship of the wise men. Close the door of hate and open the door of love all over the world. Let kindness come with every gift and good desires with every greeting. Deliver us from evil by the blessing which Christ brings, and teach us to be merry with clear hearts. May Christmas day make us happy to be thy children, and Christmas evening bring us to our beds with grateful thoughts, forgiving and forgiven, for Jesus’ sake.
Amen.

(taken from http://www.acatholic.org/advent-christmas/christmas-prayers/)

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