Second  Sunday of Advent 

December 9, 2018



Happiness is possible, thanks to the glory that God bestows on his oppressed people.

Many people, scholars and common citizens alike, have wondered whether or not it is really possible to be happy in this life. If so, how is it possible to be happy, especially when conflict, illness, hunger, violence, or pain are everyday experiences for some people?

The question of happiness has been an important issue for societies of the past and the present. Both in ancient times as well as in our own time, men and women still ask if happiness can be a reality or whether it is just an abstract ideal. Let us briefly examine the ideas of some great philosophers concerning the possibility of being happy in this life and the road to achieving it. Afterwards, we will consider the proposal of the prophet Baruch.

According to the greek philosopher Aristotle (384 BC - 322 BC), "Happiness depends on ourselves." Aristotle, proposed that happiness came from self-realization or achieving one's goals. He maintained that all humans pursue happiness. Some individuals achieved happiness from earning money, others from receiving honors, others from traveling to distant places, and still others from pursuing an education. Every person had his or her own 'secret formula' with regard to what would bring about happiness. In this view, individuals needed to know themselves well and discern what they really want in life. This way of understanding happiness has to do with personal fulfillment.

Lao Tzu (601 BC - 531 BC) was a Chinese philosopher whose historical existence is debated. Nevertheless, he is considered one of the most important thinkers of ancient Chinese civilization. According to Lao Tzu, "if you are depressed, you are living in the past. If you are anxious, you are living in the future. If you are at peace, you are living in the present." In this view, the way to achieve happiness was to live in the present. Those who always think about tomorrow or who remember yesterday with nostalgia generate anxiety and stress. They fail to enjoy the moment and their real existence.

Immanuel Kant (1724-1804) was another philosopher. According to Kant,"happiness is more than a wish, joy, or choice; it is a duty." The pursuit of happiness is one of the many duties of the human being. It is a last and supreme responsibility that forces us to be worthy of achieving it. According to Kant, happiness does not depend on destiny or others, but on oneself. Happiness depends on the person; that is, it depends on our own behavior and character.

The writings of the prophet Baruch addressed the threats of the Greek line of thought at the time. This way of thinking was spreading quickly in the vicinity of the Mediterranean Sea and in the land of Palestine. The Jews of the second century BC faced a radical change in the way of understanding and celebrating their faith. The manner in which they viewed their life and the possibility of ever being happy were threatened. Faced with this situation, an anonymous prophet arose who wrote the book of Baruch in order to restore hope among discouraged people. The prophet understood that the misfortune was a consequence of the sin of the nation. For this, Baruch proposed three things:

First, it was necessary that those in the community plead to God for the forgiveness of their sins. Second, once forgiveness had been received, it was necessary to adopt a lifestyle that would conform to the law of God. And third, the prophet assured the community that whoever obeyed the law of God would find extraordinary joy, a kind of happiness that emanates from the pious practice of God's commandments.

In the words of Pope Francis, to fulfill the law of God is to open ourselves to the possibility of living the tenderness of God, a tenderness that will be reflected once again in the Christmas manger.

Fr. Sergio Mena
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 In light of the recent scandals, I know many people are wondering whether they should remain in the Catholic Church. And I totally get that; the outrage is warranted.

But in this time of crisis, I beg you not to flee, but to fight--not violently, with the weapons of the world, but with the weapons of the Spirit. We need you.

~Bishop Robert Barron
Founder, Word on Fire Catholic Ministries


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