|Second Sunday in Lent – Transfiguration|
|Given on March 12, 2017 at the Cathedral of the Annunciation, Stockton|
Yesterday I conducted a retreat day for the members of the Serra Club of Modesto. I chose the theme of 'happiness' as an important subject during the season of Lent. I began with the second question in the Baltimore Catechism which only people of my age would remember: Why did God make you? We are made by God to know God, to love God, to serve God and to be happy with God in this life and in the next life of heaven. So we are made for happiness. Why then are so many people unhappy? The answer is very simple.They search for happiness, and the truth of the matter is that you will never find happiness by looking for it. It is elusive and when you think you might be on the verge of finding happiness, it evaporates.
This is exactly what Jesus taught us. "Whoever wishes to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it." When we follow Christ by living a dedicated life and accept whatever is asked of us to be faithful to God we will find life. We will find happiness. Friday night when I was watching the news hour they had at the end of the program a woman psychologist who spoke about the search for happiness. She said that to search for happiness in our culture is counterproductive and usually leads to unhappiness. I thought 'that's true' because it will be one failure after another and one can only end up discouraged if not depressed as so many people are. Then she said that happiness comes when we pursue meaning in our lives. When we believe in something or someone beyond ourselves like God we will find happiness. When our lives matter; when we have a sense of purpose; when we find our lives to be coherent, we will be happy.
That is exactly what the catechism taught: If you know God (and to know God is to know Jesus Christ, not just intellectually but personally); if you love God (which cannot be separated from love of neighbor) and if you serve God (which is a dedicated life to doing good), this will lead to being happy in this life and in the next.
On this Second Sunday in Lent the Church gives us the vision of Jesus Glorified. Peter, James and John saw Jesus in the glory that would be His when He would be raised from the dead and when he would return at the end of time in all his majesty. For us this is a vision of Jesus as he exists now reigning in the glory of heaven and when He will come again at the end of time to judge the living and the dead.
The Church gives us this vision of Jesus in His Glory early on in Lent so that we will not lose hope as we do penance for our sins and turn back to God with all our hearts. The Church gives us this vision of the glorified Christ so that as we embrace Christ crucified and carry the crosses asked of us in life we will not forget that the Risen Christ lives and reigns in glory. The Church gives us this vision so that we will not lose hope. Like the apostles we come down from the mountain and return to our ordinary, every day lives, but always the vision of the Risen Christ and eternal life remain before us.
Even when we suffer we will find genuine happiness in doing what is right, because we are doing the will of God. We will see meaning in our lives: to know God, to love God, to serve God. God is the God of the living not of the dead. Eternal life is our ultimate purpose, and when we live with this sense of purpose we find happiness.
Happiness comes from living a meaningful life. We are talking about happiness right now, no matter how difficult our lives may be and no matter what we may be going through. Happiness is a spiritual joy, a peace in our hearts. There is a comfort in knowing that Christ crucified suffers with us and that Christ glorified brings us joy and happiness. We are made to be happy with God in this life and in the life to come.
|+ Bishop Stephen Blaire|