This is a blog that I post to several times a week although not necessarily daily. These reflections are triggered by the scripture found in the lectionary used by many Christian denominations. While I am part of the Catholic tradition, these posts are not --or rarely--sectarian. I try to put myself in the space of a of Jesus Christ and listen to words that come to me as I read and pray the scriptures. Each post also includes a photograph. These rarely have any connection to the content of the post but are simply pleasing images that I capture as I make my pilgrimage through life.

Monday, January 21, 2013

Joy versus happiness

Son though he was, he learned obedience from what he suffered;
and when he was made perfect,
he became the source of eternal salvation for all who obey him.
Hebrews 5:10

The author of Hebrews is at great pains to remind us that Jesus, the High Priest of the New Covenant, was a human being, like us in all ways save sin. This passage brings to my mind two misconceptions that often intrude on my thinking about myself and about life. First, since Jesus was without sin, his life escaped the pain and suffering of human relationships and life until the very end. Of course, this cannot be true. If he lived a fully human life, he experienced weakness, illness, pain, disappointment, failure, success, happiness, sadness and all the other experience that comprise a human life. To the extent that I know of his life, he serves as a model for me of what it means to be a fully and deeply human person.
Second, this passage reminds me that it was precisely through his suffering and pain that he became perfect, that is, in complete alignment with the will of the Divine. As an American I typically confuse happiness and joy. In my culture, happiness is seen as the absence of pain or difficulty. I am happy when everything is going my way and I am insulated from physical and emotional pain. The Christian life is not about happiness but about joy. And the joy we experience comes precisely from the experience of pain, suffering and death along with all the good things of life like friendship, meaning, worth, and deep feeling.
Suffering, pain and death are essential parts of a human life and are far from incompatible with joy. In fact, they are indispensable to the development of joy. How hard this is to comprehend and live.
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Location:Charissa Run,Rochester,United States

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