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Make up your mind to spread joy this year, says Fr Alvan

In his latest Voice of Hope article, Fr Alvan Ibeh asks how 2024 has been for you so far?

Well, I know it’s still early to ask such a question at this point as we are still in the beginning of the year. But nevertheless, I still wish you all the best and hope we all land safely together at the end of the year.

While I was reading the gospel of Matthew 2, which was the gospel of Epiphany Sunday, the tenth verse of that chapter spoke to me in a special way. I believe this is what we all need to hear at the beginning of a new year.

In Matthew 2: 10, it says that when the three kings from the east saw the star, they were filled with great joy. Let’s have a look at how different versions of the Bible present this. The New International Version (“When they saw the star, they were overjoyed”), the New Living translation (“When they saw the star, they were filled with joy), International Standard Version (“When they saw the star, they were ecstatic with joy”).

Reflecting on these took me back to what happened when Mary visited her cousin Elizabeth in Luke chapter 1. In verse 44, Elizabeth exclaimed, “as soon as the sound of your greeting reached my ears, the baby in my womb leapt for joy”. Jesus’ star brought exceeding joy to the three kings and Mary’s greeting made John leap for joy. He felt the presence of Jesus and I believe this was what made him become excited in his mother’s womb.

Like Jesus our Master, we are also called to spread joy. Our presence is meant to bring joy to others and not sadness. Our presence should bring hope and not hopelessness. People should encounter us and look forward to seeing us again, not the opposite. People should come to us with broken hearts and leave feeling healed and mended. This is what we have been commissioned to do through the spirit of Jesus that has been given to us in the sacraments we have received.

It may look insignificant, but it is always a blessing to be able to bring joy and happiness to others.

This should not just be to those known to us, but also to those we do not know. Kindness to those unknown to us can often open an unexpected door of blessings.

We remember what happened to Abraham, when in Genesis 18, he welcomed angels unknowingly. He brought joy to them, and a blessing came with it. Hebrews 13:2 says, “Be not forgetful to entertain strangers, for thereby some have entertained angels unawares”.

Some people, unfortunately even Christians, can be unnecessarily very nasty to others especially if they are unknown to them. Yet we will pray and ask God to reveal himself to us, when He does that in the different people we come across every day of our lives. There is no doubt that most of the people we come across in our everyday lives, may be battling with a lot of things unknown to anyone, which they find difficult to share with anyone. So, the best thing we can do is to be nice to people for any reason and be a source of joy and happiness in their life.

I have encountered a lot of patients in the hospital, that notwithstanding their health condition, radiate so much joy that you cannot but be infected. Of course, we all know that joy can be contagious. If you are a joyful person, everyone around you will be infected but if you are always miserable, you can imagine the type of negative energy you will be spreading around.

So, dear friend, you must make up your mind to spread joy this year and always, no matter what is going on around you. One thing is sure, “it is far better to be joyful than to be miserable”. I pray that your year will be filled with so much you that there will be no space for any negative energy.

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