12 December, Sunday — The pursuit of Happiness

3rd Sunday of Advent

Zep 3:14-18
Phi 4:4-7
Lk 3:10-18

I want you to be happy, always happy in the Lord.

I love the word ‘Happy’. Just looking at the word or derivatives of the word makes me happy. I recently read about the Happiness U Curve. In a longitudinal study, it shows that beginning from the age of 18, people experience decreased level of unhappiness ‘reaching peak unhappiness at 47.2 in developed countries and 48.2 in developing countries’. So if you are in your mid-40s and feel less happy than you were a decade earlier, it’s pretty normal. The good news is happiness gradually increases as we head into our 50s through pretty much the end of our lives. I should be pretty happy now; according to this curve, I am on the upward trajectory!

That is all academic isn’t it? While the study is done in 145 countries and most people experience this inverted U-shaped ‘happiness curve’, it all depends on the individual’s physical, cognitive and socioemotional situation. If I am a bummer and messed up most of my life, it’s not going to miraculously turn around and I become incredibly happy and successful (however one measures success and happiness) when I hit 50. Nope, it doesn’t work that way. We have to cooperate with God, use the gifts and talents given to us and do the very best that we can.

Today’s second reading begins with ‘I want you to be happy, always happy in the Lord’, other versions may read ‘Rejoice in the Lord always, again I say rejoice.’ It goes on to tell us “Do not worry about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God.”

Isn’t it so wonderful that we have a God who loves us so much that whenever we find ourselves in a fix, anxious, sad, out of our wits, confused, down…all we need is to pray and give thanks, let our heart’s problems be made known to God. ‘And that peace of God, which is so much greater than we can understand, will guard your hearts and your thoughts, in Christ Jesus.’ — Phi 4:7

2021 is coming to an end. It’s amazing how the last 23 months in the pandemic have simply whizzed by. No doubt it has not been easy for many around the world. We don’t know what the New Year has in store for us. Will our days ever return to normalcy? I dare say no. We have all learnt to live and work differently. Will we be happy and joyful again?

God definitely wants us to be happy. “Take delight in the Lord, and he will give you the desires of your heart.” — Psalm 37:4. Our only source of true happiness is in God. If we put God in the centre of everything we do and place God above us, this is where happiness is found. Being human, we think that everything has to be perfect and right before we can be happy. But as Christians, we are called to keep out eyes on the big picture, to focus on God. With this perspective, we can overcome and rise above every trial and tribulation we face in this life and still find God’s peace and happiness.

Brothers and sisters, whatever each of you is going through right now, whatever you are facing; even if life is just ho-hum, I wish everyone the peace, joy and happiness in the Lord. For those of us who are blessed, whose hearts are full, share some of ourselves with our fellow brethren who may be facing a bump in their lives now. “Whoever has two cloaks should share with the person who has none. And whoever has food should do likewise.”

God bless you all!

(Today’s OXYGEN by Geraldine Nah)

Prayer: Lord, teach us to place everything in you — to focus on You. Teach us to pray, teach us to be thankful and grateful for every blessing you have given us. Teach us to be less self-centred individuals; to know that everything comes from you.

Thanksgiving: Thank you Lord, for reminding us that in everything, turn to you in prayer and thanksgiving. That everything is in your hands. Thank you for the promise of peace and happiness. Thank you God for the gift of your Son — the only joy we need in this life.

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