It’s not hard to describe the profile of a happy person in the society that Jesus knew. It would have dealt with an adult male of good health, married with an honest and fruitful woman, with sons and some rich land, observant of religion and respected by his village. What more could one ask for?
Certainly this wasn’t the ideal that drove Jesus. Without wife or children, without lands or goods, travelling through Galilee as a beggar, his life doesn’t respond to any kind of conventional happiness. His way of living was provocative. If he was happy, it was in a countercultural way, the opposite of what was established.
In reality, he didn’t think much about his happiness. Rather his life circled around a project that excited him and made him live intensely. It was called «God’s reign». Seemingly he was happy when he could make others happy. He felt good returning people to the health and the dignity that had been taken from them unjustly.
He didn’t seek his own interest. He went about creating new conditions of happiness for everyone. He didn’t know how to be happy without including others. To all he proposed new criteria, ones that are more free and radical, in order to make a world that is more dignified and joyful.
He believed in a «happy God», the creator God who looks at all creatures with tender love, the God who is friend of life and not of death, who is more attentive to the suffering of people than to their sins.
From the point of view of faith in that God, he breaks through the religious and social schemes. He didn’t preach: «Happy are the just and pious, for they will receive God’s reward». He didn’t say: «Happy are the rich and powerful, for they count on God’s blessing». His cry was upsetting to everyone: «Happy are the poor, for God will be their happiness».
Jesus’ invitation comes to us speaking thus: «Don’t seek happiness in the satisfaction of your interest nor in the interested practice of your religion. Be happy working faithful and patiently for a happier world for everyone».
José Antonio Pagola
Translator: Fr. Jay VonHandorf