“What do you seek in this life?”
Are you familiar with this question? I am. And, I think I recall variety of anwers to this question too. Many anwers of course… some are so eloquently put, some have depth in thoughts, some sound care-free, and some are downright simple. But, the bottom line is that everybody wants this one thing: Happiness!
Today’s gospel is about “living water.” Jesus said to a Samaritan woman near Jacob’s well whom he engaged in a conversation, “Everyone who drinks of this water will be thirsty again, but those who drink of the water that I will give them will never be thirsty. The water that I will give will become in them a spring of water gushing up to eternal life.”
The woman said to him, “Sir, give me this water, so that I may never be thirsty or have to keep coming here to draw water.” I believe I would have the same answer as this woman. Who wouldn’t?
J. J. Rousseau said that the thirst after happiness is never extinguished in the heart of man. I agree with him. However, I think those who pursue happiness never find it. Because joy and peace are extremely elusive, happiness is like a phantom. Even if we reach out our hand to grasp it, it vanishes into thin air. God gives joy and peace not to those who pursue them but to those who pursue Him, and strive to love. Joy and peace are found in loving and nowhere else.
A Merchant lives in all of us. We look for some kind of pay for what we do, openly frank or otherwise. I think as long as we want to get something from God in some kind of exchange, we are like the merchants. If you want to be rid of the commercial spirit, then by all means do all you can in the way of good works, but do so solely for the praise of God. Live as if you did not exist. Expect and ask nothing in return. Then the merchant inside you will be driven out of the temple of God. Then God alone dwells there. This is how the temple is cleared: when a person thinks only of God and honors him alone. Only such a person is free and genuine.
Well, in a materialistic and false compassion world, it’s very hard for us to do what He’s taught us. We always say that we do everything in the name of love, of compassion… but our love sometimes is blind. That’s why we need to know about the truth. Truth and Love walks hand in hand, like husband and wife. Love without Truth is like compassion without law. Truth without Love is like justice without mercy.
What are you going to do when there’s something wrong in your family, your circle of friends, or your community? Do you stay quiet? Do you just pretend that everything’s will be alright? Do you never speak the truth in the name of love? Do you get angry and then get even? Do you expect others to compromise but not you?
Father Richard Ho Lung* said, deep down in our heart we know, what is wrong and what is right. But, most of the times we are ashamed to say it. (I used “ashamed” instead of “embarass” because we think we’re wrong and intimidated to say what’s right.) Why? Because we are afraid… afraid that people won’t like us or will keep away from us, we are afraid to be labeled self-righteous. There are so many examples in today’s world ~ abortion, pre-marital sex, casual sex, same-sex marriage, euthanasia.
Now people do what they want in the name of love and compassion. More and more, we are urged to support abortion, pre-marital sex, casual sex, same-sex marriage, euthanasia ~ because it’s the way it is today, because it’s love and compassion. Have we ever stopped, thought and reflected what these ‘lifestyles’ mean to humanity, to our culture?
Following are what Happiness means to some people:
You will never be happy if you continue to search for what happiness consists of. You will never live if you are looking for the meaning of life. But what is happiness except the simple harmony between a person and life they lead.
~ Albert Camus ~
Most people ask for happiness on condition. Happiness can only be felt if you don’t set any condition.
~ Arthur Rubinstein ~
If you look carefully you will see that there is one thing and only one thing that causes unhappiness. The name of that things is “attachment.” What is an “attachment”? An emotional state of clinging caused by the belief that without some particular thing or some person you cannot be happy.
~ Anthony de Mello ~
The secret of happiness is this: let your interests be as wide as possible, and let your reactions to the things and persons that interest you be as far as possible friendly rather than hostile.
~ Bertrand Russel ~
The pursuit of happiness is a most ridiculous phrase; if you pursue happiness you’ll never find it.
~ Charles Percy Snow ~
This is the true joy of life, the being used up for a purpose recognized by yourself as a mighty one; being a force of nature instead of a feverish, selfish little clod of ailments and grievances, complaining that the world will not devote itself to making you happy. I am of the opinion that my life belongs to the community and as long as I live, it is my privilege to do for it whatever I can. I want to be thoroughly used up when I die, for the harder I work, the more I live. Life is no “brief candle” to me. It is a sort of splendid torch which I have got hold of for a moment, and I want to make it burn as brightly as possible before handing it on to future generations.
~ George Bernard Shaw ~
Man is the artificer of his own happiness. Let him be aware how he complains of the disposition of circumstances, for it is his own disposition he blames. If this is sour, or that rough, or the other steep, let him think if it not be his own work. If his look curdles all hearts, let him not
complain of a sour reception; if he hobbles in his gait, let him not grumble at the roughness of the way; if he is weak in the knees, let him not call the hill steep.
~ Henry David Thoreau ~
Happiness is when what you think, what you say, and what you do are in harmony.
~ Mahatma Gandhi ~
Happiness does not consist in ruling over one’s neighbors or in longing to have more than one’s weaker fellowmen. Nor does it consist in being rich and in oppressing those lowlier than oneself. No one can imitate God by doing such things. They are alien to His sublimity. On the contrary, anyone who takes his neighbor’s burden upon himself, who tries to help the weaker one in points where he has an advantage, who gives what he has received from God to those who need it, takes God’s place, as it were, in the eyes of those who receive. He is an imitator of God.
~ Minucius Felix ~
Oh, what a bitter thing it is to look into happiness through another man’s eyes.
~ William Shakespeare ~
I think we do know what happiness is, although it’s sometimes can be very abstract. We do know the way to get it. But, the problem is we are too attached to what we have, what we think, and the way we do things.
*Father Richard Ho Lung, who gave the homily in today’s Mass, is the founder and Superior General of the Missionaries of the Poor, Kingston, Jamaica, an organization working among impoverished people’s principally in the island of Jamaica, and also in India. Among his many apostolic works he relocated 500 slum dwellers from squatting quarters to Goldsmith Villa. He has preached missions and retreats in North & Central America, Europe, the Caribbean and the Far East. He has written over 300 songs, musical plays and oratorios. He has published several books, among others are “Diary of the Ghetto Priest” and “Jesus: The Meaning of Life Vol. 1 and 2.” He also has contributed regular column titled “Between Good and Evil.” This is the link to Missionaries of the Poor.