“You have eaten, but have not been satisfied;
You have drunk, but have not been exhilarated;
have clothed yourselves, but not been warmed;
And whoever earned wages earned them for a bag with holes in it.”
Today’s readings encourage us to reflect on what brings us joy in life.
I’ll never forget the Christmas when my son was about a year and a half old. He had the largest pile of presents in the family and tore into them once he got the hang of it. But he was far more excited about the growing pile of paper and ribbons than the plastic wonders inside. When everything was open, he played with the paper instead of the toys.
At least he was too young to ask if that was all there was like some older kids do. For years whenever we cleaned out the toy box, I’d marvel at how many expensive items had been junked after a couple of uses. The job always reminded me that the toys didn’t make my kids happy any more than most adult “toys” do.
That’s also the central lesson in today’s first reading. The second half of the reading suggests what does bring happiness – serving the Lord, and by extension, other people.
The passage makes me think of a favorite quote from Albert Schweitzer. “ One thing I know, the only ones among you who will be really happy are those who have sought and found how to serve.”
Next time you are feeling down, try this experiment. Think of someone who would benefit from a random act of kindness and do it.
It can be the smallest thing. Think of someone you love who needs to hear that and send an email or make a call. Take your kids to the library or a park and let the dishes in the sink wait. Invite your elderly neighbor who doesn’t get out much for a cup of coffee. The possibilities are endless.
I’ll almost guarantee that once you’re focusing on bringing joy to someone else, the sun will come out on your own day. What St. Francis says in the Peace Prayer is so true. In giving, we receive and what we receive is the gift of joy.
Enjoy those random acts of kindness!