February 3, 2023 – Friday of the Fourth Week in Ordinary Time
Click here for the readings (https://bible.usccb.org/bible/readings/020323.cfm)
Do you feel contented with what you have now? Do you also feel that despite the fact that you don’t have all things in the world, yet, you feel assured and happy? Or do you rather feel that you don’t have enough and feel insecure with that what others have while you don’t? And is this insecurity in you make you feel rather bitter, angry, hateful and pitiful either towards others or yourself?
Some of us could be in such situation of being contented and grateful though we don’t have the luxury of everything in this world. Others could be grappling with bitterness, insecurity, anger and self-pity because of not having enough and not having what they ought to have and should have. While others would somehow feel indifferent, taking for granted what they have and not really doing anything to cherish and develop what they already have.
Bearing these in mind, we may be young or old – no matter our age, or we may be a student, an ordinary worker or professional or job less, married, single, separated – no matter our status is – we search and long to find contentment and joy in life. This is the reason why we dream and we want our dream to come true. This is also the reason why we want to succeed in our endeavors to have such contentment and joy in life, with our family and friends.
Neil Clark Warren who is a Relational Psychologist, wrote in his book Finding Contentment, “that many people are desperately in search for immediate and rapid-fire happiness surges that has become an obsession.” Because of what he called as the happiness highs, a person may continually seek what only brings a momentary happiness. This may be in a form of material thing or immaterial like in the form of vice, habit and other coping mechanisms. And because it is momentary, it may drain and prevent a person to seek what is lasting and enduring. Such attitude of the heart may also lead the soul to restlessness and emptiness.
What Dr. Warren proposes is to find contentment in life, a lasting and enduring contentment that will free us from the burden and slavery of pretensions, of anxiety, insecurities and fear. He further suggests that one will be able to overcome and transcend oneself by walking in the path of authenticity, that we become authentic persons. This means that we will not be dictated by what others wants us to be, or merely driven by our selfish desires, or to become who we are not but to be who we truly are. To put this in our Christian belief, what Dr. Warren says is basically, that we become the person God wants us to be. God desires the full realization of ourselves where we can find freedom and fullness of life.
Dr. Warren’s Finding Contentment is what the Letter to the Hebrews also invites us today, “be content with what you have.” This letter was addressed to the Christian Hebrews to always have the attitude and spirit of hospitality. One becomes hospitable by being attentive to the needs of others, sensitive to their situations, by being faithful and committed in one’s relationship and by being content with life. All these bring us into the invitation to fully trust the providence and generosity of God who will never make us destitute and who will never abandon us.
However, when the heart becomes unfriendly and unwelcoming of others, then, it makes the heart insensitive, ungrateful and discontented with life. The person lives in fear and insecurity, because he/she does not trust what God will give him or her. And worst, because of such attitude of the heart, the person will tend to blame God for giving him or her so little and for being unfair.
This kind of attitude is what we have heard in the today’s Gospel of Mark. Mark tells us about King Herod and his mistress, Herodias. Both of them grew discontented with life. They were more after of momentary happiness to the point of losing their direction from recognizing what is wrong and what is right, what is just and unjust. Consequently, they became obsessed that made them destructive and corrupt both in their relationships and in their way of leadership among the people.
King Herod, however, seemed to have some hope because of the disturbance he felt in his heart when he listened to John the Baptist. Yet, he did not have the courage to confront himself. Thus, the King was eaten by his obsession to have more and to express his violent authority against the weak. As a result, his actions became destructive and oppressive to others. It was not hospitality. It was not kindness. This was how the life of a prophet was ended coldly. King Herod ordered the beheading of John the Baptist just to please people around him.
This tells us how it becomes destructive to ourselves and to others when we remain seeking what only gives us momentary happiness and remain ungrateful of what we already have.
Hence, God calls us today to become contented of what we have. God has certainly blessed us with many things. We do not need to have everything too. Having everything will only give us headache and constant worries. The key to contentment and true joy is not having everything at all. What we need rather is the right attitude of having a grateful heart that is contented with God’s blessings and graces. In this way, we become more confident and assured of what we already have and also of who we are. Kabay pa.