The richness and meaning of life cannot be found in unalloyed joy nor even in unending pleasure. Rather it is in the endless cycle of joys and tears and the ever-upward spiraling of bad things into good and of good things into better. Just as the morning brings hope and newness after the dark night, so does joy come after every bout of tears and sorrow, making the latter sweeter and stronger. Just as the winter is presaged by the colors of autumn and followed by new life in the spring, so do trials push us forward into ever higher grounds of happiness and fulfillment. Just as everything must eventually end and everyone must eventually die, so does the cross eventually lead to the Resurrection.
Last night our movie date was “This Is Where I Leave You.” We enjoyed the movie. It was entertaining, funny and some scenes were touching and poignant. But there was an underlying assumption that bothered me: sex is as natural and necessary as taking food. All the characters just needed to have sex. As the movie unfolded, it made me realize that relationships based mainly on sex tend to be brittle and are fraught with complications. There is more to loving and to relationships than mere pleasure-seeking or stress-releasing sex.
Life is not easy nor simple and we tend to make it even more complicated. Yet, life can be easy and simple if we do not make it even more complicated. There is an inherent drive in me for pleasure and ease. And yet, my life can be richer and fuller if I can and do deny myself of self-seeking pleasures every now and then. There is a tendency in me to think first and only of myself. And yet, my greatest happiness happens when I love and serve others.
Let my prayer come before you, Lord.
When the days drew near for Jesus to be taken up,
he set his face to go to Jerusalem.
And he sent messengers ahead of him.
On their way they entered a village of the Samaritans
to make ready for him;
but they did not receive him,
because his face was set toward Jerusalem.
When his disciples James and John saw it,
they said, “Lord, do you want us to command fire
to come down from heaven and consume them?”
But he turned and rebuked them.
Then they went on to another village.