|Adrei Rublev's Icon of the Trinity|
One thing that all of us have in common, is the search for happiness. Everyone wants to find happiness. We may have very different ideas as to what happiness is, but all of us are searching for it. God shows us exactly where to find it and how to get there, but we are not always convinced. One of the consequences of Original Sin, was that we were no longer in communion with God the way He intended for us. It says right after the Fall, that Adam and Eve hid from God. They had never done that before. They were suddenly afraid of him and this has passed on to us. We are not always convinced that what God teaches us is true, or good for us, or that He really has our best interests at heart. If we were, we would try and live his commandments as carefully as possible, since they are the path to our happiness.
If I asked how many of you here want to be rich, probably everyone would say yes, because we are convinced that we will have happiness if we have enough money. Our problems will go away. They won’t. In fact, Jesus says ‘How hard it is for a rich person to enter the kingdom of heaven.’ Why would it be harder to enter heaven if you are rich? Because our wealth can be a distraction. We can become immersed in material things, forgetting about what is truly important and it doesn’t have to be great wealth either. Being obsessed with getting enough money is just as bad, but Jesus taught the opposite. He said, ‘It is easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle, than for a rich person to enter the kingdom of heaven.’ (Luke 18:25; John 3:3). The ‘eye of a needle’ was a metaphor for a very narrow opening. The kingdom of heaven is where we will find happiness and ironically, wealth often becomes an obstacle to it, because it distracts us from what is really important. Instead of spending our life growing closer to God, we are focused on material wealth and forget about him. Just recently a man told me that he realized he had spent his whole life working hard to make enough money, but in the process he alienated himself from his family. He realized he would have been far better off to earn less and spend more time with his family.
Many times I have heard people who have worked in third world countries say, that it is always in the poorest countries that people have the greatest joy, even where there is terrible in justice. It is in first world countries where you will find the greatest anger, depression and despair. Why is that? Because in the poorest countries they are not distracted by wealth and they realize that they will only find happiness in God, beginning in this life and fulfilled in the next. They are looking for it in the right place.
When Our Lady appeared to St. Bernadette in Lourdes in 1858, she said to her ‘I cannot promise you happiness in this life, but in the next.’ If we understand this, we will begin to find peace, because we won’t be expecting to find complete happiness here. We will only have complete fulfillment in the world to come, because we will only find our fulfillment in God.
The wonderful thing is that God has created us for happiness. The Holy Trinity was perfectly fulfilled in every way before He created us, but God wanted to share that happiness. So, God created us to be able to share in his happiness and total fulfillment, which we will, if we remain open to God. Think of times in your life when you were happy: birthdays, weddings, the birth of a child, graduations. Our instinct is to share it, to celebrate it with others. So we invite others to share in our happiness and we have a party. That is why God created us, because He wanted us to share in his happiness and that is what awaits us unless we reject it. Why would someone reject it? Because we think we know better and refuse to listen to what God teaches us and commands us to do. The death and resurrection of Jesus reopened the possibility of heaven, which we had lost because of Original Sin. Now it is offered to us, but we still have to choose it.
How is it that nearly all of us want peace and happiness, but our world is full of war and hatred? We want equality, but we are continually faced with discrimination. The reason is because there is a war going on that we cannot see, but it is mentioned many times in Scripture. Satan rejected God and hates us, because we are God’s creation. He wants to take everything away from God, especially us, his children, purely out of hatred for God. The only reason Satan takes any interest in us, is to get at God.
In the book of Genesis, after the fall of Adam and Eve, God said,
I will put enmity between you [Satan] and the woman, and between your seed and her seed. She will crush your head, and you will strike her heel (Gen 3:15).
And it says in the book of Revelation:
And the dragon was enraged at the woman and went to make war with the rest of her children, who keep the commandments of God and hold to the testimony of Jesus.’ (Rev 12:17).
The woman is Our Lady, the Mother of all God’s children. At the crucifixion, Jesus said to saint John—who is the model disciple and represents all of us who follow God— ‘Behold your mother.’ And to Our Lady, ‘Behold your son.’ (John 19:25). He gave us his mother as our heavenly mother. That is why she has continued to appear many times throughout the world, because she cares about her children and wants to make sure we remain on the right path. The very fact that she has appeared at all means that we have strayed from the right path and we are putting ourselves in danger.
If you think of evil people in the world. If they want to cause pain to someone, they will try and harm whatever is dearest to them. What is abortion, except that? Satan destroys God’s children from their beginning. That is what is behind abortion. Satan has convinced us that it is a good thing, so that we needn’t be inconvenienced. But think of the words of consecration at the mass: ‘This is my Body, which will be given up for you.’ Think of what abortion says: ‘This is my body and it will not be given up for you.’ It is the opposite of the mass. That’s how you know what is behind it. There is no species on the planet that kills its own young.
So we are in the middle of a war, a spiritual war, where Satan wants to take us away from God in any way possible. St. Paul puts it this way:
For we are not fighting against flesh-and-blood enemies, but against evil rulers and authorities of the unseen world, against mighty powers in this dark world, and against evil spirits in the heavenly places (Eph 6:12).
How did he know that? Because Jesus taught them all these things. I have no doubt that between the time of the resurrection and the ascension into heaven, these were some of the things that God was teaching the Apostles. He was piecing it all together for them. That is why God inspired them to write it down and why we have it in the Scriptures, the word of God.
What is the casting out of demons, except taking back God’s children? How do you destroy an enemy? Divide and conquer: turn them against each other. Look at what is happening in our world right now. We are turned against each other and killing each other, often for no particular reason. This is because we are in the middle of a much bigger war than we can see, when people turn their back on God and on God’s teachings, they lose their way and are open to every kind of suggestion.
But as always, God gives us all the tools we need to fight back. He shows us that living the Commandments and the teachings of Christ is what keeps us safe. If we listen to what God says to us, then we will not get distracted from the path to our happiness. If we live by the word of God, then we will remember what is important and we will see through the lies that we are constantly being told: ‘Abortion and Euthanasia are good for society. You should be able to do whatever you want.’ That was the lie told to Adam and Eve, which they fell for. ‘You don’t need to listen to God.’ Notice in the Gospel where Jesus said to the Apostles, ‘Go therefore, and make disciples of all nations… teaching them to observe all I have commanded you.’
God has created us to share in his happiness, but He will not force us to accept it. I’m often amazed at the amount of parents who tell me in great distress about one of their children who has rejected them. They cannot understand why. They did everything they could for their children and then their children turned their back on them. Sadly, it happens quite often. We can also do this with God. God offers us everything and gives us everything, but we can still reject him and people do.
I think that must one of the most difficult sufferings in the life of Jesus must have been knowing that some people would still reject him, in spite of the terrible sufferings He was going to go through. His death and resurrection re-opened the way to heaven for us, but we can still reject it.
God so loved the world that He gave his only Son,
So that all who believe in him might not perish,
but might have eternal life (John 3:16).