“Her neighbors and relatives heard that the Lord had shown his great mercy toward her, and they rejoiced with her.”

We all want joy. Joy is the great gift that God gives to us, and this gift opens our hearts and minds to believe in him more, to hope in him more, and to love him more. And one of the most powerful aspects about true joy is that it enables us to rejoice with others.

Luke points this out in today’s Gospel. Elizabeth’s neighbors rejoice when they hear of the Lord’s great mercy in her life. They could have reacted crabbily and asked themselves “Why did she receive that great gift? Why didn’t receive something like that?” Instead they rejoice with her.

In my ministry as chaplain at the Institute for the Psychological Sciences, I’ve been given the great gift to share in the students’ lives, in their hopes and in their dreams. And I’m discovering the power of participating in someone else’s joy. Life is not a zero-sum game – if you win, I lose. On the contrary. The gifts of one are the gifts of all, and if we rejoice with others it opens wonderful new windows in our own lives to the action of God.

Christmas is a reminder that God gives us His own joy as a gift. What’s my first reaction when I hear of someone else’s success? How do I respond to the joys of my friends? How do I react to the joys of those who have offended me? Let’s ask the Lord to show us any roadblocks in our hearts that impede us from sharing in others’ joy, and to help us to truly rejoice with them.

— Fr. John Pietropaoli, LC, Chaplain, Institute for the Psychological Sciences.

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