What does the human person seek
Do you want to be happy for a few hours? Get drunk. Do you want to be happy for some years? Grab the pleasures that life gives you. Qohelet himself suggests: “Go, eat your bread with joy and drink your wine with a merry heart … and spare not the perfume for your head. Enjoy life with the wife you love, all the days of the vain life granted you under the sun” (Ecl 9:7-9).
But how to be happy always?
Joy is not identified with the pleasure that, although loved and blessed by God, is ephemeral, obsolete and so often leads to sadness and disappointment. “Even in laughter the heart may be sad, and the end of joy may be sorrow” (Prov 14:13).
The Bible guarantees a paradox: true and lasting joy is born of commitment, renunciation, self-denial, sacrifice and accompanied by pain. “Now I am glad to suffer for you,” says Paul to the Colossians (Col 1:24). To persecuted Christians, James recommends: “My brethren, consider it as the greatest happiness to have to endure various trials” (Jas 1:2). And Peter recognizes: “You … rejoice with an indescribable and glorious joy” (1 Pet 1:8).
What is the secret of this joy? Jesus reveals it: “It is better to give than to receive” (Acts 20:35). It is not blessed who accumulates and retains selfishly the goods for himself, but who, distributing, becomes poor to help the needy.
A bewildering proposition. Accepting it is risky, but He is the guarantor.
To internalize the message, we repeat:
“Blessed is he who retains nothing for himself and becomes poor for love.”