Sources of Our Joy
4th Sunday of Lent, Year A - Laetare Sunday
What makes you happy? There are a number of things that make people happy. These are things that are valuable and most often people are attached to. The attachment is so deep that, at times, it’s hard to let go.
In the list below, you'll find top 10 factors that make people happy. What does not seem to make people happy are money, material possessions, intelligence, education, age, gender or attractiveness (See Link for a more detailed description of each factor):
1. Family and relationships - Even among Filipinos, family and relationships especially friendships are treasured with utmost importance. Their reassurances give support and a sense of self-worth and enable us, therefore, to live happier lives.
2. Meaningful work - Of course, who doesn't want to be engaged in a work where one is passionate about? We are happiest when our work is also our passion. Hence, we try to avoid "toxic" work which could lead to depression and stress.
3. Positive thinking - Our core beliefs are very important in the way we see life's challenges. In fact, therapists help us establish a positive view of ourselves in order that we could be happier and content with the person that we are.
THE REST OF THE LIST…
6. Giving to others
8. Personal freedom
9. Good health
10. Watching TV!!!! For some, this could be at the top of their list!
We call this Sunday, Laetare Sunday, “Laetare,” which simply means “Rejoice!” and so the main theme this Sunday is about JOY. Joy is more than happiness. We can be happy getting married, but when the marriage is challenged with trials and difficulties and becomes rather cold, joy enables the married couple to cope with daily familial endeavors. Happiness brings us contentment, but joy brings us peace that enables us to appreciate our purpose even in the most challenging moments of life. For us Catholics, therefore, more than just HAPPINESS, we should not only look for something that makes us HAPPY, but ultimately LOOK for something that brings us JOY. What are our TOP 3 SOURCES OF JOY:
1. The Love of God. What is so special about God’s love? In the Greek language, there are three different words that refer to LOVE: 1. “Eros” meaning romantic love – a kind of love between a man and woman that leads to marriage. In this kind of love, we long to RECEIVE; 2. “Philia” meaning fellowship love – a kind of love between people who gathers together to form more like a society. Here, we long to GIVE and TAKE; and 3. “Agape” or sacrificial love – a kind of love that makes a mother risk her own life for her yet unborn child. Here, we long to GIVE even the most valuable things we have in life. The kind of love that God has for us is, of course, agape or sacrificial love. And so John 3:16 says, "God so loved the world that He gave His only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall NOT die but will HAVE ETERNAL LIFE." He gives to us even His most precious SON in order that we may have life and have it to the full. The first thing that each of us must acknowledge is that God loves us and the rest will follow suit. When we lose sight of such reality, we end up without a PURPOSE and without a purpose there is no happiness, much more, there is NO JOY! Acknowledging this kind of love, we should also share the same love for one another.
2. God's Unceasing Act of Redemption.God has not remained passive in the face of our failures and sins. As God acted proactively, we too, are called to act in our own terms in charity. Created by a God who loves us unselfishly, we too, are called to do something. We’ve written down your Lenten commitment the past weeks to remind us that we have to practice our identity. The very identity patterned after Christ who shed His blood to save us because we are worth it! Question is: Do we act in a way to prove our worthiness?
Lent continues to exhort us to put to practice our knowledge of Christ through charity by being concerned for one another. Our Holy Father in fact said these very words to us: “Concern for one another likewise means acknowledging the good that the Lord is doing in others and giving thanks for the wonders of grace that Almighty God in his goodness continuously accomplishes in his children. When Christians perceive the Holy Spirit at work in others, they cannot but rejoice and give glory to the heavenly Father.” (cf. Mt 5:16)
In other words, as God’s unceasing act of redemption brings us joy, we also find them from others when we extend it to our brothers and sisters in need. Indeed, “No greater love [joy] than this than to share one’s life for one’s friends” John 15:13.
3. Finally, the Third Source of Joy is God's Forgiveness. What more can we ask for but God's forgiveness and mercy. The blind man in the Gospel was miraculously healed by Jesus even though he was blind from birth and so, he believed and worshiped Jesus. But far worse than physical blindness, is spiritual blindness which makes us blind to the needs of those who have less in life; blind to God's hand at work in our neighbors when they could have been made instruments to reassure us God's saving hand; and most of all, blind to God's healing and forgiveness by choosing to remain in sin.
The season of lent invites us to come to Jesus and seek for His forgiveness, in order that, by His "wounds," we will be healed; by His "wounds, we will be empowered to make God's forgiving hand at word through us, who have been forgiven by Christ, our source of joy.
The book God’s Annoying Love for Imperfect People by Michael Yaconeli tells the story of a man recently converted to Jesus and how an unbelieving friend sought to “see” why. “So you have been converted to Christ?” “Yes.” “Then you must know a great deal about Him. Tell me, what country was he born in?” “I don’t know.” “What was his age when he died?” “I don’t know.” “How many sermons did he preach?” “I don’t know.” “You certainly know very little for a man who claims to be converted to Christ.” “You are right. I am ashamed at how little I know about him. But this much I know: Three years ago I was a drunkard. I was in debt. My family was falling to pieces; they dreaded the sight of me. But now I have given up drink. We are out of debt. Ours is a happy home. My children eagerly await my return home each evening. All this Christ has done for me. This much I know of Christ.”
Does it not sound like the answers given by the blind man healed by Jesus? When a skeptic approaches you and seek knowledge of God, how much do you really know about Him?
So what makes you happy? That’s no longer the question. The question is, what makes you joyful?