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Article #2 -  Eighth Series - January 29th, 2024 by Fr. Ben Daghir

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Article #2 -  Eighth Series - January 29th, 2024 by Fr. Ben Daghir

Editor's Note:
Fr. Ben Daghir preached this homily during the 4th Sunday of Ordinary time. This article is a summary of the homily which focuses on the Beatitudes. 

Today we hear of the Beatitudes but we ought to ask, “what does the word ‘beatitude’ mean?” The Latin word is beatitudo and it means happiness. We heard “blessed, blessed, blessed” with each beatitude today. The word “blessed” can also be translated as “happy.”

Let me restate some of these beatitudes with this translation in mind: happy are the poor in spirit, happy are they who mourn, happy are the meek, happy are they who hunger and thirst for righteousness, happy are they who are persecuted for the sake of righteousness. 

Jesus Christ is laying out a blueprint of happiness. 

Aristotle stated that every action we make as human beings is in order to be happy. This includes something as minuscule as brushing one’s teeth to the incredibly important decision of one’s vocation. This also includes actions such as our hobbies, our vacation plans, our retirement approach, our profession, the friends we have and choose not to have, etc. 

Being happy is something uniquely human. Aristotle is right: every decision we make is with the intent to be happy. Jesus Christ presents us with a challenging blueprint of happiness. 

The Beatitudes are also the autobiography of Jesus, especially while He is on the cross. 

Jesus is poor in spirit while on the cross. He mourns from the cross. He is meek on the cross. He hungers and thirsts for righteousness from the cross. He is merciful on the cross, “Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do” (Luke 23:34). He is clean of heart from the cross as the unblemished and perfect sacrifice. He is the peacemaker whose sacrifice brings order to a disordered world. He is persecuted and insulted from the cross while every kind of evil is uttered against Him. 

This brings us to a startling and uniquely Christian perspective. Happiness is found on the cross. The happiest man is found hanging on the cross. 

Jesus Christ, along with the saints, is the happiest person to have ever lived. Let this soak in for a moment. I want these words to permeate our minds because the world provides us with a radically different perspective on happiness. 

The world encourages us to strive for more power, wealth, honor, and pleasure. It promises us that if we have more power, wealth, honor, and pleasure then we’ll be happy. How has that worked out in human history? It never has. If you are anything like me, you’ve noticed that these worldly appetites have never filled you up. Each time we sin we are grasping for power, wealth, honor, or pleasure. And, after committing the sinful act (which we thought would make us happy), we realize the sin didn’t live up to its perceived promise. Sin always fails us and leaves us empty. 

Mind you, power, wealth, honor, and pleasure are not bad things in and of themselves. They become awful and disordered when placed as a top priority. 

Notice that Jesus has no power, no wealth, no honor, and no pleasure on the cross. Maybe it’s because happiness is not found primarily in these worldly things. Perhaps it’s because happiness is not found in attaining and grasping the things of this world but rather in sacrificing and self-emptying ourselves. 

The cross of Jesus Christ, paradoxically, is where happiness is to be found. 

Fr. Ben Daghir is a priest for the Diocese of Erie. He is a graduate of Elk County Catholic High School in Saint Marys, Saint Vincent College in Latrobe, and St. Mary's Seminary & University in Baltimore, Maryland. He considers writing one of his favorite hobbies.

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