“I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete.” John 15: 11
Darkness covers the earth in our neighborhoods every day at about 4:30. We endure and coldest days of the year. It seems to get darker each day as we approach Christmas. Perhaps that is why we light up our houses with Christmas lights. It takes away some of the gloom of these long cold nights.
Imagine how it must have been for people before Christ came. The only lights they had were the heavenly stars and moon, a few candles or torches, but predominately they lived in darkness. Their darkness was even greater because they did not know when the first Christmas would come. They waited in great anticipation for the Messiah. One whose identity was only a hazy glimmer from the writings of ancient Prophets. 2021 years ago, He was here, walked among us, suffered an excruciating death for all of us, rose again, and ascended into heaven. Gone! And here we are waiting again. Does it sound gloomy? Oh, but it’s not. We know in faith that He has not left us alone. We have His Spirit. We have His Body and Blood at every Mass. We have His promise, that He will not leave us alone, because He will come again, when we least expect Him.
“ I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and your joy might be complete.” John 15:11. So why isn’t everyone joyful? The short answer is that Joy is intimately connected to our relationship with Christ. Comforting and challenging as well. If love and joy are meant to be available to all, they must be offered to all. Are we doing that? Our joy will not be complete until we help to unlock the joy in the hearts of others as well.
Recently, we received a beautiful letter and a donation to Friar Suppliers from the father of one of the Franciscan Friars. It filled my heart with joy and I am so happy that he humbly shared his story with us because now I am going to share it with you. For the sake of anonymity, I will not mention his name.
A woman asked this family if they would “dog sit” while she was out of town. They were told it was an “easy” job. Just let them out a couple of times a day. It sounded straight forward and so they agreed. I quote from his letter: “As the time for their departure grew nearer my wife went over to their house for “orientation.” Turns out they didn’t live where we thought but 30 minutes away. There were four dogs to look after and a cat. The dogs needed to be let out 3X a day, the first being 6 am the last being around 9 pm with the dinner visit at 5:30. The cat needed medicine and its rear end cleaned, and its pee pad replaced as it was about a hundred years old. All of the dogs needed specific portions of dog food, celery, and yogurt! One of them needed its anxiety medicine also given out accordingly. I didn’t know dogs got anxiety! One of the dogs, a beautiful retriever, needed 20-30 minutes of ball playing outside per visit and I enjoyed that time with her. In addition, any “messes” that were left for us between our visits needed to be cleaned. Of course, the visits included approximately 3 hours of driving per day for 10 days and it put a little crimp on the weekend evenings. Of course in our selfishness there was plenty of complaining but here’s where the Holy Spirit helped me. I told my wife and daughter that we would all do this together. But more importantly, we would offer up this job for the “Friar Suppliers” and their Haiti mission and donate what the dog owner paid us. So now the job was for something and someone and if my daughter was tired or didn’t want to come late and help I would remind her that this is not only helping the owner but we’re helping the Haiti mission. Everything seemed so much better afterward and so our dog sitting fee can now be put to truly good use! It is another good reminder of how we can sanctify the daily chores and drudgery that life presents as Our Lord and Savior did before His public ministry.”
This selfless act of giving is exactly what Christian joy is all about. We receive joy from the Holy Spirit and can be more joyful when we give our joy to others. Advent and Christmas are all about joy and giving, giving and joy. It’s such an easy concept; to receive joy, give joyfully. We know that everyone is exceedingly busy this time of year, try to make Advent decidedly joyful for those around you. There are so many people who need a little joy added to their lives; the sick, elderly, imprisoned, homeless, depressed, grief-stricken, lonely, divorced and separated, widowed. The list is endless! We know who they are if we just slow down a minute and look around.
When you do your Christmas shopping and giving this season, please remember “Friar Suppliers.” Your gift will bring joy to the Friars and Sisters with delicious food for their Christmas celebrations and the poor in their communities where they serve. The people of Haiti, who are always so full of joy to give, need so much just to survive. Your giving will go to the Little Brothers of St Terese and the community they serve. If you shop on www.amazon.com, you can set up your account so that a portion of what you spend will be given to Friar Suppliers. We recently received a check from Amazon for $400. That is free money just for shopping on Amazon. Thank you everyone for remembering to sign up. Thank you everyone for your generous donations each month. We promise to always be good stewards of your money. Charlie is an excellent shopper and somehow is able to spread it far and wide. We pray that you will have a very “joyful” Advent as you spread Christmas joy to everyone you meet. God bless you.
Joan & Charlie Moran