Happiness is not found in my way or your way, but in God’s way
April 18, 2019
We understand that God’s word is alive, it speaks to our present time and helps us answer the questions and problems of our day, if we are willing to listen.
This weekend is no exception. The divisions in our country, society and even in families cause uncomfortable feelings, tension and anxiety. Division and tension were no less present in Jesus’ time, as we hear in our Sunday Gospel.
St. Mark tells us that Jesus makes a side trip; he returns home and is met with astonishment. The folks in his hometown have heard stories and the news of his miracles and his notoriety. As they begin to take a closer look at what they know of Jesus, their attitudes reflect confusion and even skepticism. We’re told that they “take offense at him.” In their minds, the facts they hold to be true contradict what is being said about Jesus. His message and who he is cause division.
The people of Jesus’ hometown might have been jealous or envious. One definition of jealousy is when you worry someone will take what you have. This differs from envy, which is wanting what someone else has. Both are attitudes of selfishness. The opposite might be kindness or even joy. Joy allows us to take delight in someone else’s achievements, qualities or gifts.
The people of Jesus’ hometown might have been stubborn or obstinate. Stubbornness is a determination not to listen or agree, or a refusal to change or surrender. To be obstinate implies I disagree because I don’t like you. There is a fear of appearing weak, vulnerable or even threatened by thoughts that are different.
A self-centered, or self-sufficient attitude also explains a closure to the voice of a new authority. In a Peanuts cartoon from years ago, Linus and Charlie Brown are discussing why people can’t agree. The next panel shows Lucy jumping rope, and she says, “If everyone listened to me, they would all be happy, because I’m always right.”
Whether our divisions are global, along political lines, or even within families, they can be destructive and disparaging. The right path – the way, the truth and the life – is not found in fighting, yelling or self-posturing or with charismatic personalities. Rather the critical element, the missing piece is situating the conflict or division in the framework of our faith.
Jesus’ own response to the Jews’ reaction to him was an amazement at their lack of faith. Faith is to trust and follow the Lord. Faith is to search prayerfully for the answers that God will give us. True happiness is not in my way or your way, but in God’s way, because he is always right.
Father William L’Heureux is pastor of St. Lawrence Parish in Silver Creek, St. Rose of Lima Parish in Genoa and St. Peter and Paul Parish in Krakow.