Dear brothers and sisters,
When we think about happiness, we tend to think about happiness in this life. When Jesus thinks of happiness, his perspective is much bigger. He understands that in this fallen world, weighed down with our fallen human nature, we can only experience partial happiness. There will always be suffering, adversity, and evil, as long as human history lasts. Jesus never promised that believing in him would turn earth into heaven. He did promise, however, as we just heard proclaimed in today’s Gospel, that believing in him will put us on the path to ever-increasing happiness in this life, and total fulfillment in the life to come. That’s his agenda; that’s what he wants us to set our hearts on – the bigger picture, the eternal perspective. Those who believe in Jesus will have “eternal life”; they “will not die” but will “live forever.” Those who come to him will be “raised on the last day.” This is why he came; it is the goal of all his sufferings and efforts. He wants to bring each of us into the everlasting Kingdom of light and joy, and he never lets that goal drift into the background. Friendship with Christ is not a temporary fix, a psychological gimmick to make our little trip through life a bit more chipper. When Jesus Christ extends his hand in friendship (which he never stops doing), he offers much more: he means to walk with us in time and in eternity – if we’re willing. Christianity is not a list of do’s and don’ts. Christianity is God’s active desire to lead every person to the fullness of life that they yearn for. Everything Jesus taught and did, everything his Church teaches and does, is directed to that goal.