Story by: Adam Ruiz, D.Min. Staff Chaplain, Norton Women's & Children's Hospital on November 17, 2017
“When you live a life of prayer, it doesn’t matter what side of the prison fence you’re on. I’ve already died a thousand times in a thousand concentration camps. There is no new information to trouble me…”
When Etty Hillseum wrote these words, she was a prisoner in Germany and would soon die at Auschwitz. Even in the midst of living a life devoid of freedom, she was already living a life that reflected what Augustine said about happiness: “Happiness is rejoicing in the truth.” This begs the question: How is it that Hillseum’s inner truth led her to a spiritual freedom despite the outer circumstances?
In today’s fast-paced, instant gratification, and very individualistic world, the pursuit of happiness is a never-ending obsession for many people. Americans are constantly bombarded by messages that are meant to convey to us: whoever you are, however you look, however you are living, you are not fulfilling your fullest potential and therefore you need to change.
However, while ‘happiness’ is an inside job and may seem complicated, it is really a very simple thing. When we look for eternal truths, we will find all that we are looking for and all that we have always wanted. I know that when I lose focus on what I know to be eternal truths, I get lost in trying to figure out what has already been figured out for me.
In Matthew’s Gospel, Jesus gives us the recipe for happiness. He told us, ‘Happy are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the Kingdom of Heaven. Happy are those who mourn, for they will be comforted. Happy are those who are humble, they will receive what God has promised. Happy are those whose greatest desire is to do what God requires, God will satisfy them fully. Happy are those who are merciful to others, God will be merciful to them. Happy are the pure in heart, they will see God. Happy are those who work for peace; God will call them his children.’ (Mt 5: 3-10).
This week, I encourage all of us to stay focused on eternal truths and do not lose hope—even when life is difficult. In this life, we will endure hardships and suffering. But Jesus promises to comfort us. In this life, sometimes ‘bad people’ will seem to get all the good things. But Jesus promises us that the Kingdom of Heaven will be ours. In this life, sometimes we will not know what path to follow. But Jesus assures us that when we seek Him and his Kingdom, we will find peace and be satisfied. In this life, others will cause us hurt. But when we forgive, Jesus promises us that we will know peace and be shown mercy.
Seek his Kingdom and all other things will be given to you: This is the recipe for happiness.
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