Sunday, December 20, 2015

Finding True Happiness

The Advent Gospel was on the genealogy of Jesus (Mt 1:1-17).  Fr. Ed explained the reason for the group of 14 names, repeated three times --- numbers were thought to have significant meaning in the Jewish faith.  He also commented on some of the women mentioned, like Bathsheba the wife of Uriah, whom David really “took” as his wife.  It reminds us that Jesus’ family tree was not perfect.  Neither is mine.
The day this Gospel was read, I was led to think on our family tree.  Both my parents were one of seven children; I have over 50 cousins.  Although I know where few are these days, I know of none who chose a life dedicated to God.  While my sister and I both once considered a religious vocation --- I think the influence of our Catholic elementary schools --- neither of us strongly pursued those thoughts, and our parents discouraged the choice of a religious life; I don’t know why.  Perhaps that was all part of God’s plan but, at least in my case, I still wonder and sometimes have regrets.
But my past, like everyone’s, is past.  I cannot change history, only the future.  As I hear the genealogy of Jesus and His fractured ancestors, I pause and wonder:  will God ever bless our family with a priest or sister somewhere down our family tree?  Or is our family going down and away from Him --- it seems so many families are.  Or does He still call to us and our children: “I love you; will you love Me?”  And is there not even one of our kin whom we raised righteously enough who would answer:  “Speak Lord, your servant is listening?  I want a happy life, with You.”  I know of one family in my parish where five sons are priests; they are one of the most joyous families I know.  They have no fancy home, no ritzy cars, but they know true happiness.    
Why don’t families encourage their children to become priests or sisters?  Don’t they want happiness for their kids?  Look at the world our children now live in:  drugs, “you-choose” marriage, sex-is-everything Godless lifestyles.  Is happiness more likely to be found in that culture, or in a religious lifestyle which might help change that culture?  “But I raise my children right,” you might say; “they can resist that culture’s pull”.  Well, I pray daily with many friends who “raised their children right”, and those children now laugh at their parents and their faith. 
Why would anyone these days tell their children they should focus on earthly happiness, not heavenly happiness?  Are we that confused, that far away from God ourselves, that we think the things of this earth are more important than heaven?
Is our family now the innkeeper who says: “I’m sorry, there’s no room for You here?”
I know I have priests and sisters regularly praying for me.  The next time they ask, I think I shall ask them to pray for my family, that we might be blessed with religious vocations.  Our children and the world need more true happiness

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