May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that you may abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit. (Romans 15:13 NRSV)
As I was contemplating the word JOY for this reflection, I came to the realization that JOY and happiness are really not the same. I believe that happiness is an emotion which is temporal, but JOY has a much deeper meaning for it is a quality which originates in the heart by the power of the Spirit. Happiness is only a temporary feeling, while JOY is eternal. As John Piper, a Baptist pastor and author, once wrote: “…(H)appiness is what the world has, joy is what Christians have.”
Previously I must admit that I had not given much thought to the differences in these two words. It is happiness I experience when my dog runs to greet me, but when I go to the convent, it is the JOY of the Holy Spirit that I feel. In holiness of the chapel, the gardens, and the stillness of that sacred place, as well as in a hug or a smile from a sister or fellow oblate, I experience a closeness to God. This is JOY, because the Holy Spirit is present. How wonderful!! If only this JOY were present throughout the world, then we all would have peace and confident hope.
It is at this time of year when we await with joyful anticipation the birth of our Saviour Jesus Christ, who is the true JOY of the world and the source of the peace which passes all understanding. May the JOY of Christmas be yours this year and always.
– Lynn Van der Hiel