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Sunday, December 14, 2014

Me-Monster and The Reed of God

Gaudete Sunday is all about joy.  There are many obstacles to the joy of the Christmas season.  Some of them we can control, others we cannot.  If a loved one has died or we are experiencing some other type of loss or failure, we may not be feeling the joy of the radio stations and marketplaces resonating with our own hearts.  However, other things can get in the way, too, and they don't have to.  The biggest one, and the one today's readings call us to focus on, is ourselves.  If we are full of ourselves, we will not have joy.  True joy - not the sweet but empty "cotton-candy" joy - is the fruit of hope, of peace, of an encounter with someone greater than ourselves.

A comedian once talked about the big scary beast of pride that we see so often in our world.  "Beware of the me-monster" he would say.  It's a good wake-up call.
Humility is the antidote to this, and we see it well in John the Baptist.  Humility is grounded on truth.  Literally it means "earthiness," someone who is lowly and in touch with reality.  That is why John can say "No" to all those questions, but still respond clearly to who he thinks he is: a fulfillment of the Old Testament prophesy to prepare the Lord's coming.  He knows it and isn't ashamed, but there's no me-monster involved.  That's humility.  That's the road to joy.
John the Baptist has emptied himself.
If we empty ourselves and give it over to the Lord, letting Him sit on the throne of our hearts to have authority to shape our entire person as He wishes, then we will find the secret to Joy.  Not only that, but the Lord will do great things through us.
Carol Houselander wrote a great book on this truth called the Reed of God.  She spoke of how a reed has to be taken and emptied out, shaped as God wants it, in order to be transformed into a beautiful wind instrument.  If the reed is full of itself, it cannot make music.  Mary was exactly that as well: like John the Baptist, she was free of herself so that God could shape her and make something more beautiful than she ever imagined.  And through that, she was filled with great joy.

So if we want to share the joy of this season, we need to foster our hope that God will do great things through us, which starts with humility.  Let us empty ourselves and become God's reed so that he can make some beautiful music with our lives.

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