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12/16/18 Third Sunday of Advent - Fr. Damian

Don’t Worry, Be Happy!

In today’s 2nd reading, Paul gives us some important, practical advise, “Rejoice in the Lord always” and “Do not worry about anything”. Doesn’t this sound like the famous hit by Bobby McFerrin, Don’t Worry Be Happy? Even though we live in a world that is chock-full of toys, comforts and luxuries yet fewer and fewer people seem to experience true peace and satisfaction in their lives. Rather we continue to experience more and more worry and anxiety. Life is full of problems, as Bobby McFerrin admits, yet he goes on to advise us not to worry:

Yet there is a big difference between St Paul and Bobby McFerrin on this issue. Bobby McFerrin tells us “Don’t worry, be happy” without telling us why we should be happy or more importantly how to not worry. Paul, on the other hand tells us in today’s reading both why we should be happy and how we can dissolve our worries and attain happiness. Here we have Paul’s key to happiness.

The first part of the reading tells us why we should be happy and not worry. “Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, Rejoice. Let your gentleness be known to everyone. The Lord is near”.

We should be happy not because everything is going well with us right now, not because our health and finances are in great shape, not even because someone has bought us a big Christmas present, but simply because the Lord is near. We should be happy not because of what we have seen in the past or what we see today but because of what we shall see tomorrow. It is a happiness that springs from the faith and the hope that our Lord is coming to wipe away the tears from all eyes.

The Lord is near.” The Lord is coming. “And all shall be well.

Paul knows one thing we should do rather than worry, and that is: take it to the Lord in prayer. Paul does not ask us to deny that we’ve got problems or to pretend as if they are not there. He urges us rather to face our problems squarely, not with worry but with prayer. Turn worries into prayers.

This is how we arrive at that inner peace which people around us cannot understand. “And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus”. It is the peace that God gives, the peace that nothing in the world can give, and all because we have learnt to trust God in everything and in every situation. We have learnt to bring everything to God in prayer. No matter the magnitude of the problems facing us at this time, we can with the prisoner Paul pray with joy and confidence: “Maranatha, Come Lord, Jesus.”

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