What makes you happy?

I am sure like me you have been asked this question, or even asked it of yourself when trying to make a decision.  The simple answers come quickly to mind for me – to be healthy, to have good friends, to have enough money to enjoy life, to be with family and for them to be happy and healthy, to live in a beautiful place, to be loved and to love, to enjoy my work…and all of this true at one level.  And then we read today’s in our Gospel (4th Sunday in Ordinary time year A) where Jesus challenges our notion of happiness when he preaches the Beatitudes as a way of life.

When he gives this Sermon on the Mount Jesus is speaking to his disciples and to the large crowds who have gathered – that is to all who have ears to hear the message, then I must ask myself, “Am I listening; am I ready to hear with my heart, my mind and my ears?”.   This message can sometimes read for me as harsh or difficult – asking me to be happy when I am abused in his name, when I am persecuted, when I am poor in spirit… This though is not what Jesus is referring to – he is offering each of us a path to happiness, a path he is walking himself and inviting us to follow.  If I know myself to be poor in spirit, if I am gentle in my approach to life, if I hunger for justice for all, if I show mercy to others, if I am peaceful, then I will know the happiness of the new life Jesus offers to me and to you.  This Gospel is also about looking forward, yes, it offers us happiness now as we live this life on earth but it also points the way to happiness for eternity when we shall see God face to face – it is then we will truly rejoice and know our happiness is fulfilled.  So the next time I am asked what makes you happy perhaps my answer will be slightly different! And maybe your answer will be different too…

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