Advent Reflection: Luke 6

I once saw this most succinct and surprising definition of joy on a friend’s wall plaque:

Joy is the infallible sign of the presence of God. -Teilhard de Chardin

According to this definition, joy is not happiness, exhilaration or a good feeling based on circumstances, but a result of God’s presence. Joy is the root word of “blessed” in the new testament,  makarios (blessed). This is the word Jesus uses to describe “the distinctive joy which comes through participation in the divine kingdom.”* He ties the two concepts together with his use of the words rejoice and joy in the last verse of his teaching:

Looking at his disciples, he said: “Blessed are you who are poor, for yours is the kingdom of God. Blessed are you who hunger now, for you will be satisfied. Blessed are you who weep now, for you will laugh. Blessed are you when people hate you, when they exclude you and insult you and reject your name as evil, because of the Son of Man. “Rejoice in that day and leap for joy, because great is your reward in heaven. For that is how their ancestors treated the prophets.  Luke 6:20-23

We are blessed when we experience difficult and challenging circumstances because the Lord is present in all things (Philippians 4:5), he is at work in all things (Romans 8:28) and he is making all things new (Rev. 21:5). 

The good news to us at Christmas is that Jesus is our Emmanuel, which means God with us. When we enter into challenging, sad, disappointing circumstances, as well as times of celebration, gratitude and hope we are assured that Emmanuel is always there, and that we can have joy.

*Kittel, G., Friedrich, G., & Bromiley, G. W. (1985). Theological Dictionary of the New Testament (548). Grand Rapids, MI: W.B. Eerdmans.

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