The question about the meaning of life is closely related to the pursuit of happiness and the questions about who I am, where I come from, where I’m going. Most people spend their whole lives avoiding these questions.
I know someone who was driving his motorbike with his girlfriend on the back with her arms around his upper body. Her right knee hit a parked car. The impact threw her backwards and she pulled him back with her. His hands came off the handlebars and the bike headed straight for a wall. He wriggled and shimmied in the seat of the bike trying to turn it sideways to minimize the force of the impact. They escaped with injuries. But the point is that most people live like that, wriggling and shimmying this way and that to minimize the impact of death. That is a sad and sterile way to live. In order to find the meaning of life we must confront the mystery of suffering and death. If death has the last word, all our hopes and meanings are insufficient.
We are not made for a small happiness; we are made for awe and adoration and eternal ecstasy; face-to-face contemplation of God who is love. When we try to settle for less our hearts experience an element of sadness even in the middle of our so-called happiness. The answers to the big questions—the meaning of life, the pursuit of happiness, my origin, my identity, my destiny, my mission and my task in life—can only be found in the crucified and risen Jesus Christ. We have been given no other name by which we can reach temporal and eternal fulfillment.
Anyone who is serious about these questions must read the Gospels with a docile heart. The word “docile” comes from the Latin docere; a docile heart, therefore, is one that is easy to teach; quick to learn and to put the lessons learned into practice.
Response given by Fr. Colm Power, SHM
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