December 14, 2008
ADVENT III (B)
The true light, which enlightens everyone, was coming into the world. - - John 1: 9
Isn’t happiness the goal of life? Not according to the gospels which teach that doing God’s will is the goal of life. It just happens to be the case that happiness is the consequence, the fruit of doing God’s will. It comes not because we sought after it, but by the grace of God. Stop worrying over all those things you think are going to make you happy, says our Lord: “Seek first the kingdom of God & all these things will be added unto you” (Mt. 6: 33).
There is a play in which a man dies & passes into the next world. When he opens his eyes, he sees laid out before him more beauty & luxury than he ever dreamed possible, more then he ever dared hope for. He finds himself in a state of being in which every wish is granted, instantly. At the slightest whim, an attendant appears to see that it is immediately fulfilled. After a time, however, the man grows restless, bored. “If only just once there would be a refusal’ he thought. Finally, the monotony becomes unbearable & he summons an attendant, saying, ‘I want something I can’t have unless I earn it.’ ‘Sorry,’ says the attendant, ‘that’s the one wish we cannot grant here.’ ‘Very well,’ says the man, ‘then let me out of here, I would rather be in hell.’ The attendant replies, ‘And where do you think you are, sir?’
Having our material wishes fulfilled does not bring happiness. “At present we see indistinctly, as in a mirror, but then face to face,” says St. Paul (1 Cor. 13: 12). In other words, true happiness in the beatific vision may be our destiny, but we cannot have it here on earth. All we can catch is a glimpse of our eternal destiny. Whether or not we catch that glimpse depends on our choice of life-goals.
If we see temporal rewards as ends in themselves – as life-goals – then our vision of happiness will be as distorted as the man who couldn’t tell the difference between heaven & hell. On the other hand, if God’s will is our first priority, then by God’s grace we will catch our human glimpse of the Divine Life.
The clue to finding happiness is to stop looking for it. We have to lose our life to find it. The question is not “What do I want?” but “What is wanted of me?” If we can bring glad tidings to the lowly, heal the brokenhearted, comfort & build up one another, remain at peace with one another, cheer the fainthearted, support the weak, be patient toward all, & refuse to return evil to another (Cf. 2 Thess. 5), then our very lives will proclaim the coming of Him who brings light to the world.
Here is a reflection found in a certain religious periodical:
When you are exasperated by interruptions, try to remember that their very frequency may indicate the value of your life. Only the people who are full of health & strength are burdened by other people’s needs. The interruptions we chafe at are the credentials of our indispensability. The greatest condemnation that anybody could incur – & it is a danger to guard against – is to be so independent, so unhelpful, that nobody interrupts us & we are left comfortably alone.
Jesus is coming to interrupt us in order to remind us that God became one of us to tell us that He loves us. Our Lord is coming to remind us that not only has He joined us in the banquet of life but also that He has picked up the check. He has paid for all! We cannot do otherwise. We must tender our very lives to one another as He has served us. AMEN!