My singing career had an unlikely breakthrough when I was in high school.
I became part of a group and we became the amazing singing sensation jumping from one gig to the next. Our calendar was full and we were in demand. But our gigs were not in clubs or bars. They were not in auditoriums or concert stadiums.
They were in wakes.
Yes, you see it right.
I still remember how our big break came when during a relative’s wake and funeral, we rendered one sentimental song after another bringing everyone to tears. Boy, were we proud. We were the “Imelda Papin” (in case some of you reading this still know the famous singer) of the “death genre” (I made that up!). Our measure of success was the number of people who cried after we sing our songs. Morbid, eh?
But our glory was short-lived. Before we can even begin to plan our “concert tour”, I had to leave Davao to study college in Manila. Sadly, we had to break up. And that’s how the world was deprived of what could have been the next big thing after the Beatles.
But kidding aside, I think that’s how most people gauge a successful religious event nowadays. They ask, “How many people cried?”. You may have your own story of how a retreat master tried his best to use all kinds of dramatic effects, from the timbre of his voice to lighting effects, to make sure the participants would weep, as if the success of the retreat depended on the volume of tears shed.
No wonder many people think that Christianity is supposed to be sad — that to take your faith seriously meant the end of your fun times in life.
This is far from the truth.
On this third week of Advent, we are reminded of the joy of following Jesus.
Joy is not a life without challenges but a life which sees God’s victory in every challenge.
Joy is not a life of having everything but a life of having the thing that matters most.
Joy is not a life without failings but a life of hope that is bigger than all failings combined.
Joy is not something you achieve but something you receive.
Joy is not a self-help concept that you work into your life, but a spiritual truth that you accept into your heart.
Joy is not something you aim to get, but something you already have but you must aim to bring out.
To have joy, you don’t need another program but another person.
He is “Joy” Himself.
Give it a try.
This season, spend more time in church than in the mall.
More time in recollections than parties.
More time in front of the Bible than your gadget (unless your bible is in your gadget).
Believe me, you will realize that Christmas is not just about fun.
In fact, it’s all about “Joy” Himself.
Enjoy the rest of this blessed season, my friend!