Resisting Happiness Week 4: Look for the Mess

(December 18, 2016)

Message: Life is messy, but nobody can take your hope from you.

During these four weeks of Advent I am using a book titled Resisting Happiness. (hold up book) Resistance wears a thousand masks: Laziness, procrastination, fear, doubt, instant gratification, self-loathing, indecision, escapism, pride, self-deception and self-sabotage. Resistance stands between you and the person God created you to be. Resistance stands between you and happiness.

Overcoming resistance requires having a goal that matters. As Matthew Kelly explains, it's really the difference between a pilgrim and tourist. In the journey of life a pilgrim keeps his goal before him. A tourist, on the other hand, goes from one experience to another. When things don't work out the way he imagines, he gets upset and starts making demands. He makes life miserable for himself and the people around him.

A tourist explodes; a pilgrim asks for patience. Patience costs something: self-denial, delayed gratification. The ability to delay gratification enables a person to attain substantial happiness. It also brings better results in this life: finances, child rearing, marriage and careers all improve. You can read about it in Matthew Kelly's book - Resisting Happiness.

I am going to conclude this series on surprising note: To attain happiness look for a mess. As Matthew Kelly says, "Life is messy...As children of God we are called to go looking for the mess and make a difference in some way." Matthew Kelly's organization, Dynamic Catholic, invites people to send prayer requests. As you can imagine the requests reveal the pain and difficulty many people experience. Matthew Kelly also relates the pain in his own life. Among other things it includes an embarrassing eating disorder. This doesn't mean getting all hung up on ones weaknesses and misfortunes, but it does mean recognizing God uses trials to reach us. So look for the mess in your own life - and help others in their struggles - that's where God works most intensely to overcome our resistance to him.

Today's Gospel shows people dealing with a mess. Joseph had his life mapped out when God threw a curve ball. Mary, his betrothed, "was found with child." St. Matthew gives only a few details but we can imagine the anguish and turmoil. We can learn a lot from the quiet steady way Joseph dealt with this crisis. What matters is his openness to God's voice and God's will. The crisis makes him realize he belongs to something much bigger than himself.

We'll see more next weekend as we celebrate Christ's birth. I will have a present for every family - a gift-wrapped copy of Resisting Happiness. If you read this book and put it into practice, it will transform your life. If a family member reads the first thirty pages, I'm convinced he will not put it down - and it will bring him back to the Catholic Church. Matthew Kelly does not offer some program of escape, but he does offer real hope. For sure, life is messy, he says, yet no one can take away your hope.

Don't run from life's messiness. Instead look for the mess. In doing so we want to follow St. Joseph's example of firm gentleness. As Matthew Kelly writes, "Be gentle with people who cross your path. If someone is grumpy or rude, if someone makes a mistake or does something wrong, give her the benefit of the doubt. You never know what she is carrying around inside."

"Life is messy, but nobody can take your hope from you. And if there is one thing that resistance hates, it is hope. So hold on to your hope no matter how messy life gets, and share it with everyone who crosses your path." Amen.


Spanish Version

From Archives (Fourth Sunday of Advent, Year A):

2013: Model of Faith
2010: Why Honor Mary?
2007: Merry Christmas, Mary
2004: Joseph, Do Not Be Afraid
1998: Iraq & Birth of Jesus

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