Holy Mother Church reminds us today of those dear words of the Apostle St Paul: "Rejoice in the Lord always, again I say, Rejoice... For the Lord is near"...

Joy, real joy, is a rare commodity nowadays. It seems that there is a strict proportion between an increase in pleasures of the senses and the decrease in true joy. Look at the daily news, and you will find this corroborated by the facts: hedonism grows, suicide increases, sadness is on all the faces. What might be the underlying reason for this?

The most fundamental reason is this: Human beings were created by God to open themselves up to His infinite love, and to the eternal perspective of an unending life lived in intimate communion with Him. God is Spirit, and the grandeur of man is to aspire to be like unto God. The search for pleasures of the senses and material satisfaction lowers man to the level of the beast, it turns his eyes, his mind, his head downward towards himself, and inevitably that is a very dark descent which can only produce sadness and disgust with self.

As we approach Christmas, the world seeks to distract us with its pleasures, pulling us away from the spiritual fascination of the ineffable mystery of God becoming man to save us. The Church, on her side, encourages us to turn away from all worldliness, to offer sacrifice, to give alms, to fast. Give it a try, it works. If you are sad, if there is no joy, or not enough of it, in your life, turn your attention away from worldly things, turn it towards the needy, turn it to God in prayer, give up some things you like, and you will see that spiritual joy will return, it will increase, and your Christmas will be about what it really is about: Christ Mass, Christ come in the flesh and continuing His presence among us in the Holy Mass.

Again I say, Rejoice, the Lord is near!