from Life is Elsewhere, by Milan Kundera
Jesus is concrete and real. He shows us that experience, the life we live, is the instrument for a human journey, that my experience is the instrument for my journey. Life is not, as Kundera's novel shows that it is too often for too many, elsewhere. Having this revelation is what allows me to realize this. It is what allows me to engage reality according to the totality of its factors, ignoring nothing. Jesus Christ is the revelation that allows for this realization, to steal a Jesse Jackson chop. He makes and then keeps it real.
I'll be honest, I don't want to be holy. I want to be happy. Nonetheless, I realize that holiness is the means I must use to be truly happy. Because in order to be resurrected I have to die, which is what I did in baptism, after which I was buried and arose to new life, to eternal life, the life that is truly life, twenty years ago next month. A week or so ago, a friend relayed that the sermon at her church that Sunday was about how we are not called to happiness, but to holiness. What? I refute it thus: "Gloria Dei vivens homo"! I think God's only real concern is our happiness, our fulfillment.
I sincerely hope that the title of the sermon served merely as a provocation and that the message ultimately turned more around the question, what does it mean to be truly happy, before proceeding to discuss what it means to be holy, which means to live the paradox of dying to self in order to truly live, and that being holy is the path to true happiness. Being holy is nothing other than loving perfectly because God is love (love is not God, an important distinction; 1 John 4:8.16). God is our origin and our destiny, that is, the fulfillment of our desire, that longing which makes us human and is the surest proof that we are created in the imago dei.
A deep diaconal bow to Shahidul Alam for the photograph and the quote from Kundera's book, a novel, along with all of Kundera's works, that I cherish because they have formed me in many ways over the years. His books run like an underground spring through my soul, especially Immortality.