7th Sunday after Pentecost 8.7.18 Pursuit of happiness
We make decisions all the time about what is the best option to take. If we are buying something we weigh up the various factors. It comes to this: what will give me the greatest satisfaction? It is not always easy to decide.
The same principle holds for life itself. How should I live my life for the greatest possible happiness?
We know that the answer must involve reference to Almighty God, and His will.
If I walk in His way, I will bear fruit, like the tree planted by the water’s edge (Ps 1,3).
Happiness, contentment, peace, will all be found with that approach; at least insofar as having a serene conscience, whatever else may be happening.
What is the alternative? To seek the happiness of this world only, without reference to God's will or His commands, is the way to chaos.
The wages of sin are death as St Paul puts it (Rm 6,23).
Sin is taking the forbidden fruit. It looks good to eat, but then it turns sour. We may feel good for a while, but then comes bitterness.
Even legitimate pleasures will exhaust themselves if we do not bring all our lives under God's providence.
We have to make wise decisions, to plan the direction of our lives. We plan everything else, like our finances, organising a party, planning a holiday, or the extension on the house.
When it comes to the conduct of life itself, somehow that can be left to chance, or just how we feel at the time.
More than any other topic we need to plan what we do with our lives.
So where do we look for guidance? To the Church, appointed by God to speak for Him until He comes again.
Many are leaving the Church at this time, due to disappointment at the behaviour of some of its members.
We may share that disappointment but we cannot leave the Church because ‘to whom else can we go?’ (Jn 6,68)
But there is another reason it can be hard to stay in the Church – it requires discipline to avoid sin and choose always the good; to turn away from worldly pleasures for the sake of higher and later rewards.
Well, they say you don’t have to get drunk to have a good time. Likewise you don’t have to sin to have a good time.
Such negatives as there are in our teaching are to enhance the happiness of the person, not to restrict or deny it. If we don’t steal, lie, commit adultery etc, we will be happier than if we do. So the negative becomes a positive source of happiness.
The best way to get to Heaven is to live in a heavenly way on earth, observing purity, kindness, gentleness etc.
Breaking the laws of God will always tend towards chaos.
So we resolve to be good from now on. It will mean giving up whatever leads to sin. It could be painful but will bring greater rewards, even in this life.
We will discover new joys that come from a closeness to God, new depths and dimensions we did not know were there. And still Heaven to come.
It takes constant renewal otherwise we will fall away through neglect, and will surely sink into a worldly life.
It takes effort, but then people do not mind making an effort if they believe in the cause. Look at what people do for physical fitness, getting up early, running and swimming. But when it comes to something religious, like early morning Mass: Oh no, I couldn’t do that!
May God give us all the wisdom and the courage to decide rightly what to do with the rest of our lives.
Everlasting life awaits us if we choose rightly.