Grace and Peace of Christ Jesus our Lord! In the Apostolic Letter which marks the Year of St. Joseph, Pope Francis says, Joseph “never made himself the centre of things, he did not think of himself, but focused instead on the lives of (others) Mary and Jesus…we never see him in frustration, but only TRUST”. For, Joseph found happiness not in mere self-sacrifice but in self-gift. The pursuit of happiness is common to people of every time and of every age. In the heart of every man and woman, there is an irrepressible desire for happiness. In the Gospel of Mathew (5:1-12), we have Beatitudes which are God’s response to man’s innate desire for happiness. In fact, they are the path to true happiness which Jesus himself has taken. The word “blessed”, meaning “happy”, occurs nine times like a refrain reminding us of the Lord’s call to advance together with Him on the road that, despite its many challenges, leads to true happiness. Jesus embodied the Beatitudes throughout His life: from birth to death and resurrection. The reality of poverty, distress, humiliation, injustice, hardship and affliction is seen from a positive perspective so that one can open oneself to experience God’s gift of conversion. The Beatitudes, therefore, concludes with a promise: “be glad…your reward will be great”. We are truly blessed if we set our hope in the promise, with a sense of one’s limitation and lowliness of the anawim “the poor who seek the Lord for assistance”, who know how to live humbly, meekly and who are open to God’s gifts.
Pope Francis offers some valuable reflections about the happiness of ‘the poor in spirit’ – “It is twofold, encompasses both riches and God. Poverty in spirit manifests sobriety, the ability to savor the essential, to share, the ability to begin each day anew, free from the muck of voracious consumerism (that) kills the soul…’the more I have the more I want’ attitude. Such men and women are not happy; they will not find happiness either. In relation to God, happiness is found through praising Him…that the world is a blessing and it springs from the Love of the Father, it’s Creator. Happiness is found by offering Him our meekness and docility”. In order to be ‘blessed’, to be ‘happy’, we need to be converted so that the logic of BEING more will prevail over that of HAVING more”. The Pope adds, “the poor in spirit” is the one who does not rely only on himself, who is not obstinate and opinionated, but who listens with respect and willingly defers to the decision of others. (To be happy) your heart and hands must always be open, not closed, not shrunken. Closed heart does not know to love, open heart is on the path of love”. Shortly, we will enter into the journey of Lenten Season, a time to receive with open heart the love of God; to rediscover and to recognize that we find our fulfillment (only) in Him. Through fasting, prayer and charity we receive freedom from all that weighs us down – in order to open the doors of our hearts to the One who comes to us, poor in all things, “full of grace and truth” (Jn. 1:14). The message of the Holy Father for Lent 2021 is a “call to experience Lent as a journey of conversion – as community and as individual, to revive the faith that comes from Christ, the hope inspired by the Spirit, and the love flowing from the heart of the Father”(11, November, 2020). During the Lent in this special Year of St. Joseph, we must hear repeatedly the words of Jesus, “Learn from me, for I am meek and humble of heart”(Mt.11:29). With meekness, we understand God’s greatness and His blessings like Joseph did. May Mary, Mother of the poor in spirit sustain us with her loving presence; may the Lord of the Beatitudes accompany us on our journey towards the gift of Easter happiness.