Fr Noel's Homilies

Buzzword - Be Happy
Everyone wants to be happy. Regardless of one's circumstance of life, or social position, or culture, place of residence, city or country, every person is in search of happiness. But what makes a person happy? Obviously, it is not the same for everyone. Today's readings, however, provide us with some solid ground rules applicable to everyone.

Jeremiah 17:5-8 - For the Prophet, total self-sufficiency or total dependence on others does not guarantee happiness. He employs images easily understood by people accustomed to the harshness of the desert. Plants without sufficient water shrink and die; so, too, people without God remain stunted and eventually die.

1 Cor. 15: 12-20 - Still drawing upon his encounter with the Risen Christ, St. Paul expresses his belief that ultimate happiness is enjoyed by those who, through, death, reunite with God who is the Source of Eternal Life. Christ's resurrection guarantees this!

Luke 6: 17, 20-26 - The Beatitudes remain one of Christ's best remembered sermons. In St. Luke's version there are four "blesseds" and four "woes" advising that a life totally self-centred whilst neglecting to be concerned about the pain and deprivation of others less fortunate, is no path to complete happiness.

Point 1: - Observing people, one thing stands out constantly, namely, they are never completely satisfied. No matter how satisfied a particular experience leaves them, the euphoria quickly wears off and, like Oliver, of Charles Dickens fame, they soon want "More"!

We know that the good things of this world are good indeed; but we also know that they never completely satisfy. As we cross one horizon, another stretches out ahead of us. Win Lotto and suddenly, although many problems are solved, new ones immediately come up to rain on our parade - security for the family, how to invest wisely, fair weather friends, jealous and greedy relatives etc., etc.,

Point 2: Religious thinking deals with this problem of "more", inherent in everyone, with its belief in an Absolute, Eternal God; a God who, as we saw last Sunday, is calling us to recognise that ultimate fulfilment is achieved when, through death, we come to know as we are known. [John 15:11] I have said these things to you so that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be complete.

In the lead up to that moment, we need to recognise that life will continue to be a mixture of "haves" and "have nots"; that there will be moments that are "blessed" and "times of woe". The blessed moments are those in which we recognise that nothing in this world can bring us total security or happiness. The moments of "woe" are those in which we deceive ourselves into thinking that riches, pleasure , power and fame can provide total fulfilment and happiness.

Conclusion: It has always been a problem for Christians to maintain balance between the material and spiritual needs in living. To know how to accommodate ambition and success without becoming proud and greedy is not easy; but it can be done. It can be done by seeing them as useful road signs pointing towards that which will satisfy us completely - eternity. Ambition and success can be signs of God's presence in us as we use the God-given talents that we have. We should not allow them, however, to blind us to the needs of others who, for whatever reason, are less fortunate than ourselves. If we do, the title "blessed" becomes an accusation "Woe"!

 Scriptural reference: [2 Cor 9:8] And God is able to provide you with every blessing in abundance, so that by always having enough of everything, you may share abundantly in every good work.