Surprisingly, one of the recurring challenges I have encountered as a priest is people asking me questions about my homilies. As funny as it may sound, it is true. But I truly enjoy those questions and anticipate them because they are signs that people listen to my homilies and understand them. This is despite the difficulties that are sometimes imposed by the echo in the sound system of our cathedral church. As if that is not enough, my accent, which is different from that of most of our parishioners, sometimes increases the difficulties people experience in understanding the words I speak from the pulpit.
So, when I receive questions to discuss what I preach about, I feel both excited and a bit anxious. This anxiety is because I hardly write down my homilies. Therefore, it is not always easy to remember them distinctly enough to discuss them. But this is except for those subjects that either tickled my fancy or made strong impressions on me. One of such subjects is HAPPINESS.
A few months ago, I was at the YMCA here in town one afternoon for my routine exercise when I met one of our Sacred Heart-Griffin High School students. Talking briefly with him, he asked me about one of my recent homilies in school that discussed HAPPINESS. I was not nervous to talk about the topic with him because it is one of those things, I am willing to preach on or talk about as often as I have the opportunity.
One may wonder why happiness. Even before Christ would take flesh and be born in the likeness of men, one of the greatest intellectuals that ever lived, Aristotle, posited that happiness is the central purpose of human life. This happiness, he explained, constitutes making good choices and living a life of virtue, which saves us from the shackles of bitterness and sadness.
Ultimately, in the sacred scriptures, Saint Peter, the pre-eminent apostle and first leader of the Church, in his first apostolic letter, instructs us to always embrace happiness even in the most troubling times of our lives (1Peter 4:13). A joyful disposition, when it is genuine, is both a foreshadowing of and a preparation for the boundless happiness that we will experience when we see Christ as He is. That is when his glory is finally revealed to us.
In our today’s society, it is no longer news that too many people are sad, bitter, and sometimes miserable. While there are many reasons to be unhappy in our world today, the gospel message encourages us to radiate the love of Christ both in our words and actions. This means being as positive as possible with a cheerful disposition that allows people to encounter Christ when they meet us. Another great advantage of a joyful spirit in today’s world is that it helps people who may be going through some difficult times to cheer up when they see us. This is because happiness can be infectious when genuine.