Sunday, January 29, 2023

Fourth Sunday of Ordinary Time 2023

We all want to be happy, but the problem is, happiness, abiding happiness,  eludes us. We think that living in our dream house, having the best job in the world, making lots of money to buy what we want, travel wherever we want to go or do whatever we like will bring us lasting happiness. None of these things will. Even long lasting friendships and enduring marriages can’t give us the happiness that seems to drive us.

Why is this so? Why??? The question that gets st the heart of life and how we choose to live it. The bottom level truth  is that all things and relationships and ways of making a living will come to an end. It’s just the plain, unadulterated, painful truth. This truth we tend to run away from by engaging in endless, and oftentimes, mindless distractions: working, eating, drinking, exercising, binging series, time on the internet, buying anything….

Jesus gives us the blueprint for finding happiness in today’s gospel: the eight beatitudes. These eight “blessings” must be taken together, meaning, we don’t pick and choose but must take them as if they were one. To be “poor in spirit” means being merciful, gentle, single hearted, peaceful, pure of heart, truthful, and focused on God’s Will. They all come together, flow into each other and root us in a happiness that can best be described by the virtue JOY.

When we are daily living the beatitudes, we slowly become other focused, allowing the ego to lose its suffocating grip on us, and we want Christ to be the driving force  of our lives. The more we become like Christ,  the “happier” we become because we are living in the life giving energy of the Kingdom. Right now. This way of living connects us with heaven, with  the Reality that endures  beyond the losses and changes of this world.

When  we surrender  to beatitude living, we stop clinging to what we will never possess; we stop asking too much from our relationships and careers because they all will come to an end. Being poor in spirit gives birth to the other blessings, if only we let it be so. This way of living always, always leads to life because living in the Kingdom is the bridge to endless life. And the realization that our own lives will come to an end is not something we need to run away from. Why??? Because the adventure continues…

Last night I found myself in a vast throng of people. I was absorbed within this huge, boisterous, energetic, fun loving mass of people. A deep loneliness set in, since I was by myself and couldn’t feel the excitement. But something changed within this deep loneliness: I started to be “happy” for what seemed to be their youthful joy. My spirit was lifted up almost instantly as I let go of focusing on what I lacked and began to focus on the abundance of what these wonderful people exuded. I decreased while those surrounding me increased.

For a brief but powerful moment, Christ became the center of my heart and not my ego. The key is for each one of us to store in the treasure of memory these moments of “transfiguration” as we rejoice in the other’s joy, as we become a bit more gentle, wanting to be peace and mercy to those in need and as we are able to face the many rejections because we are able to love in such unusual ways.

Beatitude living will we unsettling and even threatening to many around us. So be it. Christ experienced the same rejection but chose to love nonetheless. It’s counterintuitive to our way of thinking but living this way of life will bring us lasting and everlasting happiness.