1.-The human being: seeker of happiness ...
There are many concepts with which we philosophically seek to define and embrace the entirety of the human being. One of these concepts describes the human being as a tireless, permanent, eternal seeker of happiness because in the daily minutia of everything we do and experience, we want to be happy. Everything we live, then, is conditioned, has meaning, courage and truth in so much as it makes us happy.
2.- The Christian religious experience is, then, for the happiness of the human being ...
Particularly, religious experience, as a model of the mission, vision and values in the lives of human beings and social institutions, plays an important role in this search for happiness. The different religious experiences and institutions must help to make the follower and believer happy. The Christian religious experience, therefore, must help us, the believers in Christ, to be happy. This must happen so that the life and mission of Christ has, then, validity for his disciples.
Twenty centuries of the Church’s evangelizing work in the world has not succeeded in showing and establishing the synonymy and coincidence between salvation and happiness, between eternal life and happiness, between the full and abundant life that Christ brings us and the happiness that every man and woman seeks while they live.
This explains the inconsistencies, hypocrisies and the permanent divorce between our faith and our daily life. For, on the one hand and in the margins of our personal, family and social histories, we seek the salvation that Christian religious faith offers us and, on the other hand, further away and almost always in contrast with our religious experience, we seek happiness.
This divorce, these inconsistencies, and hypocrisies disappear from the lives of Christ’s disciples when we discover that the health, salvation and eternal life offered by God through His Son, Our Lord Jesus Christ, fundamentally coincide with the ceaseless yearning for happiness that every human being experiences; when we discover that, as was beautifully expressed in the Second Vatican Council, "the truth is that only in the mystery of the incarnate Word does the mystery of man take on light.” (GS22); when we discover that our life is illuminated and interpreted from and in the life of Christ; when we discover that our search for happiness and humanization finds in Christ and in his Gospel "the Way, the Truth and the Life" that makes us happy, that is, that saves us; when we discover that our choices, works, loves, sacrifices, renunciations, crises and achievements are understood and acquire meaning from the life, the options, the passion, the cross, the death and resurrection of this same Christ.
Thus, one can form an understanding of the human and ceaseless search for happiness from this beautiful and wise definition given to us by Saint Augustine: "You have made us, Lord, for Yourself, and our heart is restless until it rests in You.”
3.- The search for happiness and religious experience is lived in context ...
But the pursuit of happiness and Christian religious experience, like all religious experience, is lived in time and in space, not in a bubble; that is to say, in historical, social and cultural context. The pursuit of happiness is experienced by each person in the here and now of their personal, family and social conditionings and historical-social circumstances. That historical-social context is different and changing in the history of each human being and of all humanity and, therefore, produces and introduces nuances, interpretations, changes, and variations in the notion of happiness.
4.- Our current historical-social context: transition from modernity to postmodernity ...
To those who are here, to the inhabitants of the planet Earth of this time in which we live in a context that we call: the transition from modernity to postmodernity, it is a context and a historical moment with globalized characteristics that make us how we are, think as we think and act as we act today, unlike how our ancestors lived, felt, thought, acted and hoped.
We can succinctly say that the man of today seeks happiness by exercising power that tramples, crushes and oppresses. That today, we confuse happiness with the pursuit of the pleasure of the senses as the absolute beginning and end and regardless of the means to achieve it. We achieve this power and pleasure by accumulating material possessions, goods, riches in a network of interpersonal, social and regional relationships in which one’s power and pleasure grow as the money one boasts of, manages, and accumulates increases. All this stands in total and absolute opposition to the principles and values that emanate from the life and ministry of Jesus of Nazareth who taught us that we are brothers, children of the same Father, who understands power as service, finds pleasure in the generous surrender of one's own existence at the service of our most helpless brothers, and who has the capacity and ability to share whole-heartedly, compassionately, and harmoniously.
We find ourselves in a historical-social context, moreover, that is characterized and lived in the middle of conflicts and crises of the following types:
· Personal (especially, the loss of absolute truths and with it, the meaninglessness of life),
· Family (especially divorces, separations, and new family models),
· Social (problems in politics, labor, health, education and housing, injustice and inequality, administrative corruption in governments and a thousand forms of violence, inefficiency in public services, etc.)
· Regional, national and international (clashes between different political, ideological, governmental and economic models, internal violent conflicts and bellicose conflicts between nations, migration conflicts, displacements, famines, etc.)
· Natural (earthquakes, hurricanes, floods, tsunamis, etc.)
All these circumstances of our current historical-social context push our beliefs, our faith, our hope, our Christian religious experience to begin to be lived less by tradition and more by conviction; less as a set of external rites and displays divorced from our everyday reality and more like a lifestyle - according to the gospel of Jesus Christ - that permeates our personal and family lives and relationships and our social, political, cultural, economic, national, and international institutions.
Our historical-social context pushes and conditions us, here and now, so that our search for happiness-salvation through our Christian religious experience is "like one who is going to construct a tower or who is marching into battle..." (Lk 14:28ss). That is, a reasoned, reasonable, free, informed and intelligent Christian religious experience that allows us to "lways be ready to give an explanation to anyone who asks us for a reason for our hope" (1 Pet 3:15). Christian experience that becomes in us a fundamental option of life for the person, the life and the gospel of Jesus Christ, until we can shout like Paul of Tarsus. "I live, no longer I, but Christ lives in me" (Gal 2:20).
5.-Christian Happiness-Salvation ...
Throughout these reflections, I have been showing what forms the notion of happiness for the disciples of Christ: to live their own life, to live daily the life and teachings of Jesus of Nazareth. To live each moment of our lives as children of God and brothers of all in order to establish personal, family and social relationships that enable and build "abundant happiness and life" (Jn 10:10) for all. ...
6.- An invitation: to live the Christian experience without fear, without apprehensiveness ...
The historical-social context described above, in which we are pilgrims and live our faith and our Christian hope is, due to those who seek controversy or do not believe in the Gospels, challenging. For "the harvest is abundant but the laborers are few" (Lk 10:2).
What do we do as Christians in today's world and before the panorama so briefly described here? Are we to become disheartened, discouraged?
Press on today, listen, one more time, to the voice of Paul that encourages us, telling us: "We are persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed… (2 Cor 4:9), because it strengthens our certainty of happiness-salvation in Christ, who tells us: "Take courage, I have conquered the world” (Jn 16:33).
I invite you to return to our first Christian vocation: that of being a light in the midst of darkness and salt (Mt 5:13) in the midst of our current circumstances made unsavory by inhumanity.
I renew your invitation so recently made to all of today’s disciples of Christ by Pope Francis in the Apostolic Exhortation "Evangelli Gaudium”: to live a newly happy, joyful and rejoicing Christian experience. To be witnesses to the happiness-salvation that Christ gives us in the daily routines of our personal, professional, family and social lives. To live without fear of our baptismal commitment. To live with the joyful trust of the children of God and, consequently, to be able to establish relationships of compassion and mercy - as God loves us - with all the men and women within our lives. To live as missionaries of the joyful hope and good news of the gospel in the world today, as daily witnesses of the happiness-salvation that we find in Christian life. As men and women who are happy and transformed in Christ, with vision that - from and through the gospel - allows us to see everything with the joyful confidence and hope of those who know that "the bridegroom is with them" (Mt 9:15), "always until the end of the age" (Mt 28:20).