Reflection for 4th Sunday of the Year (A)
4th Sunday of Year (A)
3 February 2008
Zephaniah 2:3, 3:12-13
True happiness… God’s gift…
In societies where consumer values are rampant, life in its entirety seems to hinge on the pursuit of happiness, which is seen as perfectly realisable by human skill and endeavour. The advertising industry has developed a range of brilliant strategies to exploit this aspect of the human condition, holding out the prospect of every dream and desire fulfilled. In the final analysis, however, advertising works only because of the transitory nature of human happiness, Happiness is so elusive that no matter the heights we manage to scale, further heights await that can only be reached through the acquisition of something bigger, costlier, faster and more luxurious.
The gulf between that understanding of happiness and the vision announced by Jesus in the Beatitudes could hardly be greater. True happiness, in his vision of things, is grounded in the blessing of God that comes not as the achievement of human acquisitiveness, but as an unexpected and undeserved gift, which is offered to all and which can be discovered in the very circumstances in which we live.
The blessing of God announced by Jesus marks the transformation of this world by reversing its values. In terms of that reversal, happiness is manifest more in weakness than in strength, more among the impoverished and the sufferers of this world than among the high and mighty, more among the outcasts at the margins of society than among the influential at its centre. In this vision of reality, God’s love is radically transforming this world, and that love is being offered to us right now. Hence, the key question for each of us is whether we are ready to receive it and live by it.
– Joe Egan SMA