Have you been invited to your friend’s celebration? It may be a wedding, birthday, a thanksgiving party or any other joyful celebration. What was the experience like? Often times in the celebrations the experience is of joy and friendship, celebration and service.

But it is sad that recently, Kenya experienced sadness, pain and anguish for losing 21 lives and others injured from the heinous act at Dusit D2 attack. Our prayers and comfort goes to the affected families, friends and relatives. May safety, security and peace abide in Kenya and its borders.

For one week I followed the trends in the social media and I was inspired by what I saw: “The 10 years challenge”, different Kenyans trying to remember where they have come from in the last ten years. It was interesting to see how many have been gifted and their lives looked physically changed within ten years. Isn’t this something to be joyful for, to celebrate as individuals and with friends? Yes! It is. Ask Babu Owino who’s celebrating his victory for his upheld election as Embakasi Mp. Ask William Samoei Ruto who attained a finish after years of hard work for his PhD degree. There are many other examples you can add on the list including your personal examples.

This is the case with Israel in the first reading. Yahweh their bride is their celebration and joy since he cannot be silent until Israel is joyful and can celebrate life of being saved from exile.

The Psalmist celebrates God’s wonders that he has done into the lives of his people of saving them. Paul reminds us of the Greek word for “Grace” which is charis, meaning a free gift that brings delight, joy and love. Certainly, this is God’s overwhelming loving and joyful presence. Paul recognizes that each person in the community receives special or unique gifts. Each person is capable of different kinds of service that can bring joy, friendship and celebration in the community, family or relationships.

In the Gospel Mary has a unique gift of serving the good of others. She recognizes her gift and her relationship with her son that can bring good service to the community gathered at Cana for the wedding.

What gifts do we possess which can bring joy and service to our Church, families and small Christian communities? Mary had relational and sapiential gifts of her son which she utilized to save the embarrassment that was to happen in the wedding gathering at Cana. The hosts of this gathering had water remaining after they run out of wine and that water was transformed into wine. Jesus had the gift of presence that saved the situation when approached by his mother.

What gifts do we possess which can be transformed into service? As a mother, or a dad, a priest or a religious nun or brother, a youth and as Christians what are our gifts for service? Find out these gifts and stimulate them for collaboration in our parish community and our small Christian communities.

On 24-27 of this month of January, Pope Francis will meet over 1 million people in Panama from all the six continents for the World Youth Day. For this reason, we are invited to pray for the success of this gathering and that the young people all over the world may learn to identify their unique gifts like Mary and use them for service. The theme of the WYD this year is: “I am the handmaid of the Lord. May it be done to me according to your word” (Luke 1:38).

May this event bring the young people together physically and virtually to celebrate joyfully their gifts of faith and service to peace, human development through education and skills. May they learn that whatever gifts we possess are special and God uses them to perform miracles in our lives and to build our communities. Whatever gift we have are enough to dispose us to serve others in the best way we can and God truly uses them to give life to all and save us from embarrassment of selfishness (Inward turning).

Joy and Peace.