My Beloved the Benevolent December, 2019
Grace and peace wishing every goodness and blessing
As we near the end of the year 2019, we give thanks to our good Lord for He has covered us, helped us, guarded us, spared us, supported us and brought us to this hour. And we pray that He grants us a happy and blessed new year.
I would like to discuss with you in this letter the topic of human happiness. Every human being desire and seeks to live happily, but what is happiness? And how does a person live happily? Some believe happiness is in wealth as wealth offers the means to achieve a person desires, but what is the limit to human desires and ambitions? And is it true that every rich person is happy? Others believe it is health, truly a healthy person is saved from the pain and suffering of illness, but we see many who used their health in harmful things and they are not happy. Others believe that happiness is being in a position of power, others in intelligence and others in knowledge and education. But are they truly happy? Intelligence could lead a person to evil, academics may lead to pride, and power to oppression.
True happiness for a human is to return to the image in which God created man. For the good and loving God who loves humans created them to live happily. God did not create humans to toil and suffer, God said in the book of Genesis, “God created man in His own image, in the image of God He created him, male and female He created them then God blessed them.” Gen.1:27-28.
St. Athanasius the Apostolic writes in his book, On the Incarnation of the Word about the creation of man: “For God is good- or rather, of all goodness He is the Fountainhead, and it is impossible for one who is good to be mean or grudging about anything. Grudging existence to none therefore, He made all things out of nothing through His own Word, our Lord Jesus Christ; and of all these His earthly creatures He reserved especial mercy for the race of men. Upon them, therefore upon men who, as animals, were essentially impermanent, He bestowed of His own Image, a share which other creatures lacked- namely the impress of His own Image, a share in the reasonable being of the very Word Himself, so that reflecting Him and themselves becoming reasonable and expressing the Mind of God as He does though in limited degree, they might continue forever in the blessed and only true life of the saints in paradise.” (On the Incarnation of the Word)
Thus, a happy life is for man to live in God’s image, connected and united with Him. This is true life- to be connected to the source of life which is God. A life away from God is a life of corruption and darkness because God is light. Man did not want to live with God and therefore disobeyed Him, he lost his connection with the source of life and happiness; St. Athanasius adds, “God had not only made them out of nothing, but had also graciously bestowed on them His own life by the grace of the Word. Then, turning from eternal things to things corruptible, by counsel of the devil, they had become the cause of their own corruption in death; for, as I said before, though they were by nature subject to corruption, the grace of their union with the Word made them capable of escaping from the natural law, provided that they retained the beauty of innocence with which they were created. That is to say, the presence of the Word with them shielded them even from natural corruption.” (On the Incarnation of the Word)
Man, either aims toward God and looks above to live true life- a life of happiness- or he aims down toward himself to live a life of selfishness, sadness and despair. Adam’s sin was that he thought only of himself and not of God. The serpent deceived man, so instead of holding on to God’s commandment given to him to protect him from knowing evil, man thought of himself and accepted Satan’s deceitful temptation to disobey God so that he can be like God, knowing good and evil. This is the critical choice that man faces everyday: either to look to what is above, or to look down toward himself, as St. Paul said, “If then you were raised with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ is, sitting at the right hand of God. Set your mind on things above, not on things on the earth.” Col.3:1-2.
When a person looks to what is above, he will use his wealth to treasure for himself heavenly treasures by helping the needy, his power by helping the weak, his education to glorify God and he will use his health in serving and toiling for the salvation of others. True happiness is in getting close to and uniting with our Christ Who loved us and died and resurrected for our salvation. True happiness is to have the mind of Christ and to realize that it is no longer we who live, but Christ who lives in us.
May God bless your offering to support Santa Verena Charity programs.