How to Encounter Happiness in 2018 – A Reflection
I was watching the Philadelphia Flyers defeat the Toronto Maple Leafs the other day. I’m a big hockey fan, even more than a Flyers fan. I played the game for a number of years and love the game at any level. Therefore, when somebody came up to me back in 2000 and asked if I would be a chaperone at World Youth Day in Toronto, I answered, “Only if I have an afternoon off so I can go and visit the National Hockey League Hall of Fame.
The World Youth Day in Toronto was St. Pope John Paul II’s last World Youth Day before the saint passed away. During the “Welcoming Ceremony,” John Paul II spoke to the young people of the world and said the following:
We too are gathered here, this evening, to listen attentively to the Lord. He looks at you with affection: you come from the different regions of Canada, of the United States, of Central and South America, of Europe, of Africa, of Asia, of Oceania. I have heard your festive voices, your cries, your songs, and I have felt the deep longing that beats within your hearts: you want to be happy!
In the video, Chris asks, “Why do we do what we do? Well, we probably do it “to be happy.”
So here’s a question. Why did you come to Mass this weekend for Christmas? Was it something that you always do? Was it something that maybe a relative pressured you into doing? Did you come because it’s “the right thing to do” or you did it simply out of habit? Did you come because you are a true believer and follower of Jesus Christ?
At the core, the reason probably was that some aspect of attending Christmas Eve or Christmas Day Mass would bring you, at least some shade of happiness.
Here’s a second question: How long did it last?
How happy were you in 2017? What helped in achieving some happiness this past year? What took away from your happiness? “Many and enticing are the voices that call out to you from all sides: many of these voices speak to you of a joy that can be had with money, with success, with power. Mostly they propose a joy that comes with the superficial and fleeting pleasure of the senses.” (John Paul II, 17th World Youth Day, Papal Welcoming Ceremony). They won’t bring a happiness that lasts. They’re temporary. The hole in your heart is eternal and can only be “filled.” with someONE who is timeless. Jesus said that He came so that we would be happiness and not just in a superficial, temporary way, but in a way that would be longer lasting and deeper (See John 15:11).
St. Monica recently began to embark on a new “fork in the road” intended to help people “encounter happiness” … a happiness that lasts longer than the wrapping that covers the presents on Christmas Day. We’re striving to help people “encounter” Christ in the Scriptures, in the liturgy and in outreach and service to others. Do you think that will help bring a new or deeper or longer lasting happiness to you in 2018? If not, I suspect that we won’t see you again for a while.
But if you think Christ can bring more and deeper happiness to a broken person …. see you next week.