Rev. John Kha Tran
An 85-year-old lady was stopped by a highway patrol officer. Rolling down her car window, she asked, “What did I do wrong, young man?”
The patrol man said, “You were driving 80 miles per hour. Why did you have to drive so fast? You must give me a good reason; otherwise I will have to give you a citation for speeding.”
The old woman explained, “Please, you have to understand. You are still a young man. I am 85-year-old. I do not have much time left. And because of my age, I had to drive fast to get to the place I wanted to go before I forgot where I was going.”
The officer says, “Happy Valentine!” then he lets her go!
Life is a journey. On this journey, we should know the purpose and the destination of our journey. And it is important that we remember where we are going.
The very first article in the Catechism of the Catholic Church states, “God created man to make him share in his own blessed life . . . He called man to seek him, to know him, and to love him with all his strength . . . He invites men to become his adopted children and thus heirs of his blessed life” (CC#1).
Years ago, when I was in catechism class, the first doctrine I learned was about who I was and what was the purpose of my life. The catechist would ask the class the question: “Why did God make you?” Everyone had to memorize the answer: “God made me to know, love and serve Him in this world, and to be happy with Him in the next.”
Through my catechists and my parents, God has implanted in me a strong desire to go to heaven. Every decision I make; every action I take, I have to take heaven into consideration. Every time I make a wrong decision or take a wrong action, I have to correct it by going to confession and ask for forgiveness. I have tried to keep this desire to go to heaven strong and alive in me. I want to become a priest also because I want to work for God in this world so that I will be with God forever in heaven. As a faithful and dependable employee for the Kingdom of God, I believe that God would take good care of me now and forever. To be in heaven with God forever is the most blessed thing can happen to us. We are blessed with many things in life. But Jesus tells us that the most important blessing for all of us is that we belong to the Kingdom of God and the Kingdom of God belongs to us.
Our parish is still owed to the bank $114,000.00. Last week a parishioner walked into the office and handed me a check saying, “Father, you do not have to worry about the debt anymore. This will help you to write it off and begin the construction for the new Educational Center. It was a surprise blessing. Blessings in life however, do not have to be monetary or material things. Every one of us is already blessed with the most valuable things in life.
A man, discontented with what he thought his miserable lot, complained of the arrangements made by God’s providence.
- “God,” he said, “gives to other men great riches, and I have nothing whatever. How can I get on in life having nothing to start with?”
An old, wise man heard these words, and he asked, “Are you so as poor as you think you are, my friends? Has not God given you strength and youth?”
- “I admit that He has; and I can say that I am proud of both my health and my strength.”
The old man then took the youth’s right hand and said, “Would you have this hand cut off for five thousand dollars?”
- “No! Most certainly not.”
- “Your left hand?”
- “Of course not.”
- “Would you consent to become blind for ten thousand dollars?”
- “God forbid! I would not consent to lose even one eye for any sum.”
- “See, then, what riches the good God has already given to you.”
Short Term – Long Term
Every one of us has already blessed with the most valuable things in life. God have given us all the potentials to help us reach happiness in this life and in the life to come. The problem is not with God, but it is with us. We tend to pay more attention in seeking short term blessings and short term happiness rather than long term blessings and long term happiness.
All people seek blessings and desire for happiness. There are short term and long term blessings. There are also short term and long term happiness. Where can we find them?
Blessings come from outside. Happiness comes from within us. Happiness is the awareness of the blessings received. We experience happiness when we receive blessedness. The blessedness can be great or little, big or small. If the blessedness is great or big, the experience of happiness can last long. If the blessedness is little or small, then the experience of happiness can last just for a short time.
We are looking for both short term and long term blessings and happiness. Short term blessings give us short term happiness just to keep us going and help us to take care of our needs and the needs of other entrusted to us in this world.
Long term blessings are things that enable us to faithfully serve God and the people God has entrusted to us so that we will be rewarded with everlasting happiness with God in heaven. Seeking long term happiness should be most important to all of us.
Jesus came into the world to show us how to seek long term happiness. He came to seek salvation for our souls. His understanding of blessedness can be understood only in term of long term happiness, the forever happiness with God in heaven.
“Blessed is the one who trusts in the Lord whose hope is the Lord.”
Jesus died penniless and almost naked on the cross. Before the eyes of the world, it was a curse. But he looked at his disciples and said, blessed are you who are poor. The disciples were poor. And we are poor because we cannot afford heaven without God’s help.
Jesus was hunger for our salvation. He was aware of our hunger as well. At the Last Supper he decided to give us everything he had. He made his body our food and his blood our drink. Then He died on the cross Friday at sunset with an empty stomach to remind his disciples what he had said, “Blessed are you who hunger now.” We are only blessed if we have this hunger for the Kingdom of God, hunger for the food of life.
Jesus died weeping. He wept because the world did not understand his message of salvation. He wept because of the price of salvation was too high. In that garden of Gethsemane he prayed and wept. He told his disciples: “You are blessed when you weep.” He wept because of our sins and the sins of the world. We are also blessed if we are able to weep because of our sins and the sins of others offending God and risking loosing eternal life.
Jesus died hated. The religious authority in Israel called him a blasphemer because he knew the truth and preached the truth. They crucified him. Looking at his disciples he said blessed are you when men hate you on account of me. We believe in Jesus. We knew the truth and witness for the truth and the world hates us, but we would be called blessed for we belong to the Kingdom of God.
The beatitudes are a wonderful description of what disciples are supposed to be like. We are blessed not because the world is pleasing with us. But we are blessed because God is pleasing with us. We are blessed not because the world accepts us, but because God is accepting us. We are blessed not because the world approves of us, but because God is approving of us. We are blessed because the Kingdom of God belongs to us and we belong to the Kingdom.