That’s an interesting way to start a blog post about happiness, but it’s a good question. Yes, it’s in the Dirty Harry motif, and yes, it got your attention to read this blog. Admit it…you are reading this post because you are imagining Dirty Harry (or Dirty Happy) saying, “Do you feel happy, punk? Well, do ya?”
So do you feel happy? Are you full of joy? Is today happier than yesterday? Has the whole week been happy? Are you happy where you life is right now at this very moment? Are you seeking out happiness? How can you find happiness?
All valid questions and all very similar to what the Rich Young Man in the Gospel of Saint Matthew was asking Jesus (Mt 19:16-30). Here is the actual question asked – “what good deed must I do, to have eternal life?” Although the Rich Young Man was asking about eternal life, he was really asking Jesus, how do I seek out happiness on earth so I can have eternal life?
Without getting into the exegesis of this scripture verse, let’s understand that to attain eternal life one needs to have a moral life. We all want to be happy! If you don’t want to be happy, I would suggest going to your physician and asking for some pills, because something is not right with you (← sarcasm).
There is a Christological Incarnation that is happening in this scripture passage. When we live a good life on this side of Heaven, there is a good chance, no, a great chance of eternal life. Following all the teachings of Jesus and His Church (not just the ones that fit your life) can help you get to Heaven.
The Rich Young Man walks away melancholic for he has many possessions and can’t give them up, even when Jesus, the good teacher, tells him what to do for eternal life, and a happy life. Possessions in this case aren’t just material objects, but it’s the inability to give up his life. He can’t give himself up! Self-Possession exists when you give yourself away. Making a gift of your self to others is what all things depend on. We must learn to give ourselves away to others.
So for us, where is happiness found definitively? As Catholics, happiness is rooted in living a good moral life, focusing on the moral teachings of Jesus Christ and His Church. It also exists in the New Law, the Beatitudes. The Beatitudes are the characteristics of the Kingdom of God citizens. Above all the other virtues, Love is the greatest and the center of the moral life. But in the end, and the above encompass this; our happiness lies in God and the person of Jesus Christ.
By developing a personal friendship with Jesus Christ through Prayer, the Holy Scriptures, and the Sacraments, we will find true joy and happiness in this life and the life to come.
During his Papal Visit of England in September 2010, Pope Benedict XVI gave the young students at St. Mary’s University the secret to happiness, when he said,
“When I invite you to become saints, I am asking you not to be content with second best. I am asking you not to pursue one limited goal and ignore all the others. Having money makes it possible to be generous and to do good in the world, but on its own, it is not enough to make us happy. Being highly skilled in some activity or profession is good, but it will not satisfy us unless we aim for something greater still. It might make us famous, but it will not make us happy. Happiness is something we all want, but one of the great tragedies in this world is that so many people never find it, because they look for it in the wrong places. The key to it is very simple – true happiness is to be found in God. We need to have the courage to place our deepest hopes in God alone, not in money, in a career, in worldly success, or in our relationships with others, but in God. Only he can satisfy the deepest needs of our hearts.”
So in the end, the question remains, as Clint would ask it, “Do you feel happy, punk?” If the answer is no, then you need to find God, because that’s the simple secret of it all in the end…Jesus Christ.
Suggested YouTube Video of the Day…it will make you get up and dance too.
350th Blog Post
Categories: Moral Theology