Sermon: What is happiness?
Sermon delivered on the last day of 2017.
In the Name of the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit, One God. Amen.
Happy upcoming New Year!
There is a tradition, as the last seconds of the old year are ticking down, to make a wish, as if asking the unknown and mysterious future to grant our wishes, and expecting from the coming year something that we desire the most.
This is a trait of human beings – we never stop dreaming, wishing, hoping. New Year is here again. And what do we wish everyone? What do we hope for?
We wish, we ask, we hope for happiness in our own life. But what does happiness mean? What does being happy mean? When are we truly and finally happy?
Humanity has existed on earth for a long time now. We have studied ourselves extensively. We know a lot about ourselves. And we know that happiness can’t be attached to one thing, especially one external thing, like money, health, success, career.
All these things might bring only external well-being. Yet we spend most of our time tending to these external, physical matters, hoping that if we succeed in them, then we’ll be happy.
And yes, we can achieve some happiness with the external well-being. But this happiness is never complete, never satisfies, no matter how hard we try, and no matter what we tell ourselves.
Yes, money can bring happiness, but it also brings hardships because the more we have, the more we desire. Physical health can bring happiness, but no matter how healthy we are, we still die. Success can bring happiness, but it also comes with fear, fear of never-ending keeping up.
And the greater this external happiness is, the more fragile it is, the more we are afraid to lose it. Maybe that’s why we wish a new happiness for the New Year because the old happiness was not fully achieved.
Year in and year out we hope and wish that the happiness we desired in the passing year will finally come to us in the new year.
Just a few weeks ago we read a parable about a rich fool, who had a great harvest. Harvest so big that he had to take down his old barns and build new, bigger barns. After doing so, he told himself – my life is set, I am finally happy, this is the life, I have enough harvest to last me a lifetime. I can relax now, party, drink and have a good time.
Yes, he was rich and he was happy. But he was a fool because he died the very night he finished building his new barns. By now it’s a well established fact that no matter what we build here, no matter how great our wealth is, all of it will be for nothing once we die.
This knowledge, this realization that there is an end to everything, poisons our little, limited happiness that we have.
Maybe that’s why, when the clock is ticking down towards the New Year, people begin making noise, shouting and filling the world with crazy uproar. And all of it because we are afraid to be in silence and solitude.
We are scared because we know that just as the clock is ticking down, so is our life, and we can’t do anything about it. A mighty and knowledgeable race – the human beings, but our own helplessness scares us more than we would like to admit.
These are the two poles of our consciousness – fear and happiness, horror and dreaming. The new happiness that we dream and hope for each New Year is the happiness that we will conquer our fears, happiness that will free us from horror.
But happiness never comes from noise and crazy shouting and partying on the New Year’s Eve, and definitely not from wishing and dreaming. Happiness comes only from within, from deep inside our soul.
It comes when we courageously look at our life, removing the veils of lies, and self-deception, and self-conceit, when we look straight into the face of fear, when we learn that authentic and undying happiness does exist, and it lies in the encounter with truth and love, with something that we have forever called God.
As the Evangelist John says, “In Him was life, and the life was the light of men” (John 1:4). He is referring to Christ of course. Christ is life, and in this life there is only light. And darkness can’t overcome this light, darkness can’t comprehend, nor fill the light.
“And your hearts will rejoice, and no one will take your joy from you,” (John 16:22) proclaims St John again. We dream and wish exactly for this sort of joy and happiness, the one that can’t be taken away from us.
God created us for happiness. He didn’t create us for pain and suffering, that’s the choice we make, we choose pain and suffering over happiness.
When we kept choosing the wrong kind of happiness, God came and restored us back to the right happiness. Someone had to suffer for everyone else to be happy. Christ became man, suffered and died so that we may be happy.
He doesn’t force happiness upon us, it’s still our choice, but now, at least, we have a choice.
On this last day of 2017 I wish you to find true happiness in our Lord Jesus Christ. “Seek and you will find” (Matthew 7:7). May we all find it this year, or at least figure out where to look for it.
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