Filled with joy by the Holy Spirit, Jesus said, ‘I bless you, Father, Lord of heaven and of earth, for hiding these things from the learned and the clever and revealing them to mere children. Yes, Father, for that is what it pleased you to do. Everything has been entrusted to me by my Father; and no one knows who the Son is except the Father, and who the Father is except the Son and those to whom the Son chooses to reveal him.’
Then turning to his disciples he spoke to them in private, ‘Happy the eyes that see what you see, for I tell you that many prophets and kings wanted to see what you see, and never saw it; to hear what you hear, and never heard it.’
Our gospel reading presents us Jesus as ‘filled with joy by the Holy Spirit’ (Luke 10:21). This is remarkable image of Our Lord as our familiar representations of Jesus often present him as crucified, resurrected, or glorified, but rarely joyful.
In this Advent season, when a number of readings focus on the end times and the coming of Jesus in power to be the judge of all creation, we may end up forgetting about joy. In fact, even outside this season, when as a church we become concerned only with keeping a roof over our heads, and with the triviality of church bureaucracy, even then we may end up forgetting about joy. As one of my favourite theologians said about a decade ago, ‘Many people perceive Christianity as something institutional – rather than as an encounter with Christ – which explains why they don't see it as a source of joy’ (Card. Ratzinger/Benedict XVI 2004).
The deep joy that Jesus experiences in our reading is the joy of being in a living and personal relationship with the Father. This joy is available to us as well because by encountering Christ in our lives and by making our home in him we have ready access to the Father. We are offered a personal relationship with the Father, who knows us better than we know oursleves and wants to be known by us. So, this Advent season let us not forget about joy. The child of Bethlehem comes to invite us to share his joy of knowing the Father; he comes to share with us his relationship with the Father, revealing him to us. Jesus comes to share his joy with us, the only true and abiding joy.