A Core Programme for the spiritual life

February 16, 2019frjohnma

For ages, men and women have been seeking direction on what to do and how to do it, seeking advice from oracles and fortune-tellers, visionaries and seers, reading palms and looking for any sort of way to glimpse into the future. Today’s readings for the sixth Sunday in Ordinary Time give us the answers to our perennial questions and complaints about life. How can I be happy and be fulfilled in life? They remind us that there are two answers. First is the fact that we have to battle against our native impulses and native tendencies, the evil spirit and the machinations of the world. Second, we are also to practise virtue. Our focus here is on the second side of our Christian responsibility as synthesized in the Beatitudes, which our Saviour gave us. One difficulty in speaking on the theme of the Beatitudes is that, we have heard and read so much about them, and we have prayed about these things so many times, we are tempted to think they are like relearning a multiplication table. No! Every time we direct our faith-inspired minds to these mysteries we learn more about them. Let us not limit our hearts and minds from the possibilities of gaining enlightenment and a genuine sense of direction.

Man is searching for happiness and all he is doing is meant to make him happy. The question is what are our sources of happiness? Today there are two broad understanding of the sources of happiness and joy in life: hedonic theory and eudaimonic theory. Hedonic theory argues that happiness is entirely about the attainment of pleasure and the avoidance of pain while eudaimonic theory advocates for meaning/purpose of life and therefore defines happiness in terms of the extent to which we are realising ourselves and fulfilling our purpose in life.

From the foregoing, as Christ’s disciples with special concern for the spiritual life, where do we stand? St. Paul says “For all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ” and once one is clothed with Christ everything about him/her becomes that of Christ (Gal. 3:27). If this is the case, one can only be fulfilled in life as a Christian if and only if one conforms to the mission of Christ. That mission is contained in Christ’s mission statement that could be termed His manifesto. He says “The Spirit of the Lord has been given to me… He has sent me to bring the good news to the poor!” It is as if the Kingdom belongs to the poor? Yes, the Kingdom of God belongs to the poor.  Who are the poor?  The poor are those who are in need of the help of God. The poor are those who trust in the Lord.  In the first reading, Prophet Jeremiah (17:7) says, “A blessing on the man who puts his trust in the Lord, with the Lord for his hope.” And we sang in the responsorial Psalm, “Happy the man who has placed his trust in Lord,” because to them the Kingdom of God belongs! The poor are those who no matter their wealth, power, fame and positions in life bow to the Lord in humble adoration and are loyal in heart, mind and spirit.

The life that the Lord wants to offer us is a blessed life. This blessed life is achieved through our solidarity with our neighbours and with God. Happiness is to be identified with every man, especially those who are suffering, hungry, rejected and in pain. Therefore the core programme of the spiritual life is to cultivate and practice the virtues of charity and justice in order to enjoy the benefits of spiritual happiness and joy. The only way to be happy is to make others happy! Towards this end, a fundamental spiritual and moral attitude to develop and promote is the awareness of the fact that “The most precious thing in the whole world is the consciousness of not participating in injustice of any kind.”

Fr. John-Mary Atep

Comments (22)

  • Angel Gabriel Likpara

    February 16, 2019 at 11:54 pm

    Truly, happiness is fundamental to a Godly home. The devil penetrates the homes of Christians mostly when happiness is missing.

    Thank you for this blessed message

    1. frjohnma

      February 24, 2019 at 7:50 am

      Gabriel thanks a lot for your support!

  • Vera

    February 17, 2019 at 1:37 am

    This is very true but difficult to practice. May God give us the grace to do what is expected of us as Catholic Christians to enable us win the heavenly race. Amen.

    1. frjohnma

      February 24, 2019 at 7:49 am

      Truth told and may God empower us with the grace to do so. Amen

  • Sr. Ceci Nzioka

    February 17, 2019 at 6:33 am

    Comment (Required)
    Thank you Fr! You have nourished my spiritual life today. YES, if there is something that the world of today is yearning for, is CHARITY AND JUSTICE.. Have a blessed and fruitful sunday.

    1. frjohnma

      February 24, 2019 at 7:49 am

      Your comments are powerful and they motivate me a lot. Be blessed

  • Mrs Otu paulyn

    February 17, 2019 at 6:46 am

    Love for God & love for our neighbors are the greatest commandment.

    1. frjohnma

      February 24, 2019 at 7:48 am

      Thanks a million!

  • Sis Adaeze Mary

    February 17, 2019 at 10:36 am

    Welldone father. “The only way to be happy is to make others happy”. Permit me to add that God too will be happy and if God is pleased with you. ….Oh God help us to live for others.

    1. frjohnma

      February 24, 2019 at 7:47 am

      God bless you immensely

  • vicky

    February 17, 2019 at 11:36 am

    May God give us the grace to live for one another. Happy sunday Fr.

    1. frjohnma

      February 24, 2019 at 7:47 am

      God bless you for your comment and prayers

  • Ben Mary

    February 17, 2019 at 11:58 am

    Great. We must make more effort to listen well.

    1. frjohnma

      February 24, 2019 at 7:46 am

      Thanks and be blessed!

  • James Ishom

    February 17, 2019 at 1:22 pm

    Happiness can be appreciated if you have passed through difficult situations in life and have come out of it. It’s only then that one can know that some people are poor. Readings of today are very important to us.

    1. frjohnma

      February 24, 2019 at 7:46 am

      Truth told and God bless you

  • Andrew Yahaya

    February 17, 2019 at 2:47 pm

    We pray for the Spirit to bow before the Lord, seeking for forgiveness always and acknowledging our nothingness. Lord that we may remain blessed. Amen. Thank you Fr.for the richness of the word so shared.

    1. frjohnma

      February 24, 2019 at 7:46 am

      God be praised and be blessed my brother!

  • TinaMary

    February 17, 2019 at 5:52 pm

    We continue to pray for God’s grace in our lives. Thanks Fr.

    1. frjohnma

      February 24, 2019 at 7:45 am

      God bless you!

  • Monica Mary Ugochukwu

    February 19, 2019 at 11:49 am

    Thank you Father for calling our attention to what true happiness is all about.We pray that God’s Grace will continually be with us to live in true happiness. Thank you for the richness of these words.

    1. frjohnma

      February 24, 2019 at 7:45 am

      I am encouraged when I read your prayerful and insightful comments. Be blessed

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