The West hasn’t wanted to believe in love as the source of life and happiness for humanity and for society. The Beatitudes of Jesus keep being an unintelligible and unbelievable language, even for those who calls ourselves Christians.
We have put happiness in other things. We’ve even gotten to the point of confusing happiness with well-being. And although there are few who dare to confess it openly, for many what’s decisive for being happy is «having money».
They hardly have any other life project. To work is to have money. To have money to buy things. To possess things in order to acquire a position and be someone in society. This is the happiness we believe in. The path we try to walk in order to seek happiness.
We live in a society that knows deep within that something absurd is wrapped up in all this, but it isn’t able to seek a truer happiness. We like our way of living, though we feel that it doesn’t make us happy.
We believers ought to have remembered that Jesus didn’t talk just about beatitudes. He also pitched threatening curses for those who forget the call of love and enjoy satisfaction in their own well-being. This is Jesus’ warning: those who possess and enjoy everything their selfish heart has yearned for, will one day discover that for them there’s no more happiness than what they’ve already tasted.
Maybe we’re living in times when we begin to intuit better the final truth that Jesus’ warning encompasses: «Alas for you who are rich: you are having your consolation now! Alas for you who have plenty to eat now: you shall go hungry! Alas for you who are laughing now: you shall mourn and weep!».
We begin to experience that happiness isn’t in perfect well-being. The civilization of abundance offers us means of living, but not reasons for living. The current dissatisfaction of many isn’t owed only or principally to the economic crisis, but above all to the crisis of authentic motives for living, struggling, enjoying, suffering, and hoping.
There are few happy people. We’ve learned many things, but we don’t know how to be happy. We need so many things that we are actually poor people in need. In order to reach our well-being we’re capable of lying, cheating, betraying our own selves and destroying each other. And therefore can’t be happy.
And if Jesus was right? Isn’t our «happiness» all too threatened? Don’t we need to seek a different society whose ideal wouldn’t be unlimited material progress, but the satisfaction of the vital needs of all? Wouldn’t we be happier when we learn to need less and share more?
José Antonio Pagola
Translator: Fr. Jay VonHandorf