REFLECTION ON THE READING
Employing a strategy used by great orators, Jesus uses hyperbole in this weekend’s Gospel as a rhetorical device to emphasize something really important. He’s shocking us with His words on purpose. What is He doing?
Well, I think it’s this…but before I say, let me ask you a blunt question… Would you say that deep down you are happy? Are you really happy? And by “happy,” I mean more than just feeling good. Do you possess in your life a deep-seated contentment?
To be honest with you, I don’t know a lot of people who are really happy. It isn’t as common as one may think. People are much sadder than they seem. Oh, and a lot of us – I know – put on a happy face. Most of us know how to look happy, but are we really happy?
Maybe we’re not happy because we have this happiness thing all wrong! Maybe the way we think about happiness isn’t what happiness really is! In fact, what we often do is create the illusion of happiness. What is the illusion, you may be asking? It is the illusion that says, I will be happy when… [fill the blank].
“Oh, I’ll be happy when…I get enough pleasure.”
“Ok, I’ll be happy when…I have enough power.”
“I’ll be happy when…they admire me more.”
“I’ll be happy when…my kids grow up, or when I get that promotion, or when I have the perfect body, or when I retire…” ON and ON and ON!!! You see, we are all victims of this. The illusion that when I fill up my life with enough attachments/ things then I’ll be happy.
So here it comes, the hard, spiritual truth…none of those things really make us happy, none of it! At least not enough to make a real difference in our lives. When we take in these things – pleasure, honor, power, etc. – yes, we do experience a brief rush of excitement. But then we all know what happens. We all know that very soon thereafter we experience a sort of let-down, boredom, a restlessness, and we find ourselves wanting more and more and more.
And now our whole life has become this terrible quest to fill ourselves up with these things of the world in order to experience brief stints of happiness.
Now, what if I told you the secret to happiness?
Ready, here it is… Right now, right here, you already possess everything you need to experience happiness.
And I’m purposefully saying “experience happiness” because happiness isn’t something you choose to make happen. You can’t will your own happiness like it’s some kind of internal switch. Happiness is a byproduct of life…it’s something that happens to you as you live your life. But far too often we cling to things and people in an effort to possess happiness… as if that’s possible!
The message this Sunday is that Jesus wants us to seek true greatness, lasting achievements, and everlasting glory – and He says that to do so we must embrace humility.
Quote of the Week
Our possessions are not ours—God has given them to us to cultivate, that we may make them fruitful and profitable in his service.