Be Happy, Don't Worry

Tom Bartolomeo
All Saints B 2012
Revelation 7: 2-4; 9-14; Psalm 24;
1 John 3: 1-3; Matthew 5: 1-12a
Reproduced with Permission

Recall the gospel reading a few Sundays ago when a ever growing number of people were following Jesus up on a hillside where Jesus taught them, more than 5,000 men and their families, and after not eating for awhile how Jesus miraculously fed all of them with only 5 barley loaves and a few fish. He had taught them the gospel reading we just heard. After witnessing his miracle the crowd tried to seize Jesus and make him their king. He could solve so many of their wants, food or whatever else came to mind. They mostly ignored his sermon on the Beatitudes, perhaps, his most important teaching - how to be blessed and happy.

If we turn the beatitudes around perhaps we can better understand them:

Accept poverty in good spirit and be happy,
Live meekly and enjoy the free goods of God's world and be happy,
Hunger and thirst for what's right and celebrate what's good and be happy,
Be merciful and forgiving of others and accept their mercy and be happy,
Be clean of heart and see purely who God is and be happy,
Make peace with our enemies as children of God, too, and be happy,
Accept insult, persecution and lies about our Christian values for heaven's sake and our own reward and be happy.

Had the chosen people who followed Moses into the desert understood the true meaning of the Ten Commandments they would have received them as gifts from God, manna from heaven, and would have found happiness not only in this world but in the world to come. Instead, many of them remained stubbornly attached to the perishable things of this world, sought out riches and power, living wrongfully and warring among themselves. They nearly lost their way to the promised land, to be blessed and happy.

"The wages of sin", the Apostle Paul said, "is death" (Romans 6, 23) and they include avarice, envy, gluttony, ruthlessness, impurity, vanity and persecution. Often these deadly contagions are grounded in personal worry and anxiety about things we do not need or problems we have not resolved. Our worries and anxieties are largely our own doing or indulgence, not God's. They may be signs of our impatience, signs of our denial or signs of our avoidance - unless the reward of heaven is not enough.

And remember Jesus also taught:

Do not be anxious about your life, what you shall eat or what you shall drink.... Is not life more important than food, and the body more than clothing?.... Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they?.... But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness... and all these things shall be yours as well. Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow.... Let the day's own trouble be sufficient for the day, Matthew 6, 25-34.

Summary: Give the Beatitudes a try. They may make you happier with fewer worries and anxieties.