Rev John Kha Tran - St. Maximilian Kolbe - Houston, TX

After so many years of trying, a couple finally had a baby. The missionary priest was about to baptize their baby. The priest approached the father and said solemnly, "Baptism is a serious step. Are you prepared for it?"

"I think so," the man replied. "My wife has made appetizers and we have a caterer coming to provide plenty of cookies and cakes for all of our guests."

"I don't mean that," the priest responded. "I mean, are you prepared spiritually?"

"Oh, sure," came the reply. "I've got several cases of beer and a case of whiskey."


Today is Gaudete Sunday! It is a traditional name given to this Sunday. Gaudete is the Latin word for rejoice!” Do you have joy? Can you rejoice with all the negative news around us? It is difficult for us to respond to Zephaniah’s message to “shout” . . . Sing . . . Be glad and exult!” We find negative headlines on newspapers every day; turn on televisions and the major media networks, all are giving us bad stories and negative news. Why are they obsessed with sad stories and negative news?

It is difficult to find good leadership in the world now. We do not find or hear good news about our leaders in government. We look to the Church and we hear reports about clergy’s sexual scandals; we read news about law enforcement raids to various church’s properties. We constantly receive one negative news after another. When we want so badly to hear good news and good stories, and cannot find them, we tend to blame others. This is why we have seen so much bickering, blaming and negative talks at all levels of our government, among leaders of the world and even in the Church. And when we are blaming others, we are not happy. We are not happy because we do not find goodness around us..

Looking for Joy

We hope Black Friday would bring us some joy, but it did not. It came and gone. I went to Wal-Mart looking for joy and ended up in frustration because I had to wait in a long line at the cashier counter. I went on Amazon online shopping to have some fun and ended up feeling guilty because I spent money on something I did not really need. I went to 99 cents store to find some joy there because the prices are cheap and I found everything there was from China. I drove around town to look at Christmas lights to find some joy and I had a flat tire on the road. Where can I find joy and happiness?

A few days ago I was waiting at a grocery store paying for a few bananas. A lady in front of me with a full loaded of items seeing me with only a few bananas, she offered me to go ahead of her. I asked her, “Are you sure to let me go ahead of you?” She replied, “I have so many things, you have only a few bananas. You do not have to wait that long behind me.” That lady really gave me some true joy for the day.

Bernard Rimland, the late director of the Institute for Child Behavior Research found that "The happiest people are those who help others." Each person involved in the study was asked to list ten people he knew well, and to label them as happy or not happy. Then, they were to go through the list again and label each one as selfish or unselfish, using the following definition of selfishness, “A selfish person is someone who uses his time and resources to serve his own interests, to mind his own business and do not want to be bothered caring for others.” The result shows that people who are happy are also unselfish. Rimland found that people who are pursuing happiness for themselves are often not happy; but people who show concerns for others and trying to help others are happy people.

Our True Joy

One day St. Francis Assisi was taking a walk with brother Juniper in the wood. Brother Juniper said to St. Francis, “I see the birds singing, animals are having fun with one another in the wood; insects are enjoying themselves on grass and flowers in the field; fish are happily swimming in the water. And why human beings are not so happy like them?”

St. Francis responded, “I think the reason the birds and animals on the ground and in the water are happy because they are created by God for this world; this world is for them to enjoy. We human beings are not created for this world; and that is why we are not quite happy in this life. We are created for the life to come.”

That is the message of St. Paul in the second reading. “Rejoice in the Lord always. The Joy that Paul advocates is not merely the happiness that comes from enjoyment of this life. It is joy in the Lord, joy that is grounded in faith in Jesus Christ, the Savior of the world. That joy comes by responding to John the Baptist’s message:

  1. Learn to share with others: “Whoever has two cloaks should share with the person who has none. And whoever has food should do likewise.”
  2. Treat others with fairness: "Stop collecting more than what is prescribed.”
  3. Live justly: “Do not practice extortion, do not falsely accuse anyone, and be satisfied with your wages.”
  4. Finally, “Be ready and prepared to receive the baptism in the Spirit and fire for Jesus Christ.

Christians are living in this world not to blame others but trying to save others for eternal life. Blaming others is a sign that you are not a happy person. Believing in Jesus Christ, we are here not to blame the world; we are here to save the world.

A friend sent me this message.

Never blame anyone in your life.
Good people give you happiness.
Bad people give you experience.
Worst people give you lesson.
Best people give you unforgettable memories.

So be a best person for others. Christ comes to help us to become the best persons we could be. . Stop blaming others and begin to be good. We can sing the psalm, “Cry out with joy and gladness: for among you is the great and Holy One of Israel.” Go and share your joy in the Lord with others.