St John Henry Newman once wrote, “One thing alone I know – that according to our need, so will be our strength.” What, I wonder, enabled him to pen these words? It is highly unlikely that Blessed Newman ever attended a self-awareness course or was exposed to self-motivational techniques focussing on the musical talents of Justin Bieber in 19th century Oxford? No. Newman’s confidence came squarely from his belief, faith and hope in the Resurrection of Jesus.
There is much loneliness in our modern world in which personal encounter often plays second fiddle to sending a text! And the easing of loneliness is not assuaged by superficial, momentary happiness. From the Christian perspective, joy arises from hope; the hope that we celebrate on Easter Day, and in fact on every occasion that the Church meets to worship God. And joy is a consequence of knowing that we are unique because we are loved, and this love begins with God.
Someone once famously said that, “Joy is to happiness, what the deep sea is to a puddle.” Worldly happiness, like puddles can dry up very quickly (although less so in Lancashire). Worldly happiness is often temporary, and mostly dependent upon making choices, and on how we “feel” and extraneous events. Joy, to keep the metaphor going is like the great oceans; it is ever present. God, unlikely worldly happiness, gives us the gift of joy that never dries up. He gives us a form of companionship, an inner strength that gives us comfort. It is a presence that is gentle that reassures that as we travel through life we are never alone. Our joy comes from accepting and taking to heart that which will never leave us.
When we take God to heart we find a peace and a happiness that will never leave us. This is the meaning of words that I often used in public intercessions, “Keep us O Lord, an Easter people.” In opening our heart to God seeking to renew our faith we open it also to our neighbour, to our families, to our community, to our country – we bring Jesus’ risen life to others.
Wishing everyone a truly happy and joyous Easter.