Today's Gospel readings are ones that we have heard over and over again. The BeatitudesDid you know that the word "blessed" translated back into context means "happy?" Yet does it really seem like Jesus is giving us the golden ticket to happiness in the Gospel today? I didn't think so...at first.
Christ says that the poor, meek, humble, hungry, thirsty, and despised people are happy. Happy! This is a pretty radical idea. To be happy in God's way, we have to be seemingly miserable in the world's view. Yet think about it. Perhaps you know a seminarian. In the world's view, these young men have nothing. In the seminarian's case, he has given up everything the world holds dear. He says "No" to power, riches, and sex. To the world, that makes him a miserable man. But I'm pretty sure you would agree with me that the average seminarian is just the opposite of miserable.
Or in the case of the world, a young woman cannot be truly "happy" or "fulfilled" until she gives herself physically away to a guy. It doesn't even have to be a man she claims to love. It can be any guy, as long as it gets rid of that dread virginity, that horrible purity. Yet when you look at the young woman who is so broken after giving pieces of herself away to men to feel satisfied, that doesn't look like a picture of happiness to me. Going in the opposite direction, sometimes it is the girl whose heart is still whole who is the happiest. She who has saved herself for one man - her husband - finds complete contentment.
Yet those who shun the world's view of happiness, and find their love and completeness in God, are hated by the world. They are the ones who are "Persecuted for righteousness' sake." This is what Christ means by being "blessed" and "happy." It's not the outside, artificial, smiling in all the photos happy. It's the persevering, even when it hurts, unpopular, but oh-so-rewarding happy that isn't just exterior. It penetrates your very soul, and lights you up from the inside. It makes you different, special and desirable to those who are desperately seeking that true joy.
Find that joy, that blessedness in Christ. Then turn around and help other's find it. That's true happiness.