We can become joyful in different ways and for different causes. This diversity of the origins of joy is one of the things that intensifies the joy. It is like finding a way of being intoxicated that doesn’t lead to a hangover, but just to discovering new varieties of the happy state. The short happy hour seems extended into infinity. In seeing this we perceive that it is not dependent on circumstances, good luck, satisfying our wishes, but it is simply part of the nature of being.
Life is so infinitely and marvelously varied that only one basic attitude allows us to enjoy all of it to the full – and that is detachment. But this is so hard to believe and practice because detachment feels at first as if we are losing the very thing we love and long to enjoy permanently.
There’s nothing special about Lent. Except the degree of concentration and the level of attention that we bring to the spiritual dimension of our lives. In Lent we slightly re-adjust our usual routines and personal habits. In this way, we disturb ourselves a little because – although we think we want something different to happen - part of us always resists change.
Mondays inspire different feelings in people: anticipation and excitement in returning to a work you love and believe in and the desire to learn from new experience. Or dread and boredom because you can’t believe in the value of what you do just to earn enough to live. Today, too, in a time of high unemployment, many suffer from the empty fear of meaninglessness that can invade the minds of those who do not have the dignity of work.
Today’s gospel describes the Transfiguration of Jesus before three of his closest disciples when ‘he was transfigured before them; his face shone like the sun and his clothes became white as light.’ Lent is the time to purify the eye of the heart with which we see this kind of light.
Treachery and brutality in Libya. A massacre of innocent people praying in Yemen. A Job-like sequence of natural disasters and immense loss in Japan. It is hard at times to believe in the inherent goodness of human nature or the benevolence of nature. Yet the response to suffering and violence is what counts. And how people take action in these moments illuminates the truth that always lies deeper than appearances and first reactions.
Jesus reassures his disciples that the effort we put into the spiritual quest is never wasted. Ask and you will receive, seek and you will find, knock and the door will be opened. Anyone starting a new venture needs encouragement and self-confidence of this kind. Otherwise, the first setback or discouragement we meet with derails us.