Be happy, always happy in the Lord!
“I want you to be happy, always happy in the Lord; I repeat, what I want is your happiness.”
A few years ago, I walked into a Church and I found that there was a little service going on. So I sat down at the back and joined in. It was the reception into the Church of a young woman. It was a very nice ceremony and afterwards the people gathered for tea and biscuits in the presbytery. And I got to talk to her.
Being – as you all know - the shy retiring sort, my first question was: “why did you want to become a Catholic”?
She said, “Well, there was a woman at the shop where I work who was a Catholic. And I noticed that, of all of us, she was the one who was never late for work and never left before time. And when customers came into the shop, she was the one they usually wanted to be served by. And she had a loving husband and three very well-brought up and polite children. But what I really noticed was that she was always happy - really happy. And one day I went and asked her why she was always happy. She said: ‘because God wants me to be happy’.
‘How do you mean: God wants you to be happy’?
Well, she said my favourite piece of scripture is Philippians 4.4-9. And she took down a Bible and read it to me. And at that moment, I knew that I wanted to be a Catholic too.”
When I got home, I looked it up. This is what I read:
‘I want you to be happy, always happy in the Lord; I repeat, what I want is your happiness. Let your tolerance be evident to everyone: the Lord is very near. There is no need to worry; but if there is anything you need, pray for it, asking God for it with prayer and thanksgiving, and that peace of God, which is so much greater than we can understand, will guard your hearts and your thoughts, in Christ Jesus. Finally, sisters and brothers, fill your minds with everything that is true, everything that is noble, everything that is good and pure, everything that we love and honour, and everything that can be thought virtuous or worthy of praise. Keep doing all the things that you learnt from me and have been taught by me and have heard or seen that I do. Then the God of peace will be with you.”
The greatest mission any of us do in life for Jesus is to live our lives well and to show the world that it is in living the Christian life that true human happiness is to be found. We do not pretend that being a Christian will make you wealthy, or better looking or give you higher status, or get you better marks in the exams, or even sort out your passport application. What we believe is that by living in the way God asks of us, we can become the people He created us to be. That is, we come to be the Best that we can Be. That is what God asks of each of us. That is our mission in the World. And if we live it faithfully then all people will see in our way of life a way that will lead them also to the Way, the Truth and the Life that will make them the People that God created them to be.
Paul O'Reilly SJ