2020-01-05 Father Francois Beyrouti's Homily: "How to Find New Happiness."
This is the link to Sunday's homily: https://youtu.be/AHB6Z3o-cb8
The full text of the readings and the homily are below.
How to Find New Happiness.
Sunday, January 5, 2020 homily by Father François Beyrouti.
2 Timothy 4:5-8. Mark 1:1-8. Sunday Before the Theophany.
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Father François Beyrouti
Holy Cross Melkite Catholic Church
451 West Madison Avenue
Placentia, CA 92870-4537
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Epistle. Sunday before Theophany, 2 Timothy 4:5-8
PROKIMENON (Tone 6)
O Lord, save your people and bless your inheritance.
Stichon: To you, O Lord, I have called: O my Rock, be not deaf to me!
A Reading from the Second Epistle of St. Paul to Timothy.
My son Timothy be watchful in all things, bear with tribulation patiently, work as a preacher of the Good News, fulfill your ministry. As for me, I am already being poured out in sacrifice, and the time of my deliverance is at hand. I have fought the good fight, I have completed the course, I have kept the faith. For the rest, there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the just Judge, will give to me on that day: yet not to me only, but also to those who love his coming.
ALLELUIA (Tone 4)
May God have mercy on us and bless us.
Stichon: May he let his face shine upon us and have mercy on us.
Gospel: Sunday before Theophany, Mark 1:1-8
The beginning of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, the Son of God. As it is written in the prophets, “Behold, I send my messenger before thee, who shall prepare thy way, the voice of one crying in the desert, ‘Make ready the way of the Lord, make straight his paths’, there came John in the desert, baptizing and preaching a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins. And all the country of Judea went out to him, and all the inhabitants of Jerusalem; and they were baptized by him in the river Jordan, confessing their sins. And John was clothed in camel’s hair, with a leather girdle about his loins, and he ate locusts and wild honey. And he preached, saying, “One mightier than I is coming after me, the strap of whose sandals I am not worthy to stoop down and loose. I have baptized you with water, but he will baptize you with the Holy Spirit.”
Christ is Born. Glorify Him.
And a happy and blessed new year.
If someone gave you new clothes you would be happy. If someone gave you a new car you would get excited. And if someone gave you a new house you would be hysterical. Getting new things always brings us great joy and that is one of the reasons Christmas is such a happy time of year.
In addition to all the new things you recently purchased, in the next week or two you will receive at least one more new thing. It will be something you did not have before and something that may be with you for a very long time. Look for it in the mail. You will get a specially marked envelope announcing to you that in addition to all the new things you purchased you now have new bills and you are the proud owner of brand new debts. So, congratulations on all your new purchases, your new bills, and your new debts.
There were a group of men in a very important meeting. They were all asked to turn off their phones and leave them in their jackets. But, during the meeting someone’s eel phone started ringing.
One of the men quickly answered in a low voice then left the meeting and said “Sorry honey I can’t talk for long.” The woman on the phone said “Don’t worry, I just have a quick question. I was at the mall today and saw a beautiful dress. It is a bit expensive, but…” The man cut her off and said “Sweety, don’t worry, just buy it. I gotta go.” She was so surprised at his positive answer, then said “Honey, one other quick question. Before I left I noticed a very nice gold collector’s edition watch. I’m not sure how much it costs but it looks so nice and….” The man quickly cut her off again and said “Sweety, don’t worry, just buy it. I gotta go.” I promise I only have one more question: “As I was driving home our car was giving me some trouble. I went to the car dealership and the salesperson gave me a great deal on a brand new car with thousands of dollars of extras, outstanding features, and...” He stopped her and said: “Sweety, don’t worry, just buy it. I am in a very important meeting and I definitely have to go. Good-bye.” She said “Have a good meeting and try to be home by 6 because I’m going to prepare the best dinner ever.”
He hung up then went back into the meeting and said: “Sorry guys, I just realized this is not my phone, but whosever phone this is, your wife wants you home by 6. She is preparing a great dinner for you and your family.”
We live with the joy of getting and giving new things but we also live with a delusion when we think these new things have a lasting value. Things that are new may seem exciting for a while but the happiness they bring us does not last very long. In fact, most of the things we purchased has either made us fatter or given us a bigger debt. Usually the joy we get from new things quickly turns to disappointment.
The Bible teaches us that we should be careful about becoming too happy when we acquire new food, new clothes, and new items. The Bible even warns us about new friends that like us for the wrong reasons. For example, we read in Proverbs 19:4. “Wealth brings many new friends, but a poor man is deserted by his friend.”
We all wished each other a happy new year? But what is happy and what is new about this year? If our happiness comes only from what we bought or received, then we will not have a lasting happiness.
The Bible speaks of new things that we often overlook. For example, we find the phrase “a new song” 10 times in the Bible. Psalm 40:3 reads “He put a new song in my mouth, a song of praise to our God.” We also read in Judith 16:13 “I will sing to my God a new song: O Lord, You are great and glorious, wonderful in strength, invincible.”
In this new year, what is our new song to the Lord? What new words or new feelings of appreciation do we have for God? What new commitment do we have to something spiritual? What new values will we have that will better reflect how much we love God?
In addition to the new song that we can sing to God which contains our joys, sorrows, and other emotions, the Bible also encourages us to ask for a new heart and a new spirit. We read in Psalm 51:10 “Create in me a clean heart, O God, and put a new and right spirit within me.”
Saint Paul also encourages us to rejoice in our new nature. We read in Ephesians 4:22-24. “Put off your old nature which belongs to your former manner of life and is corrupt through deceitful lusts,  and be renewed in the spirit of your minds,  and put on the new nature, created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness.” Also, Colossians 3:9-10, notes “Do not lie to one another, seeing that you have put off the old nature with its practices  and have put on the new nature, which is being renewed in knowledge after the image of its creator.”
The Bible teaches us that we are new because of who we are and not because of what we have.
Finally, our faith reminds us that we are new because we are ministers of a new covenant. We read in 2 Corinthians 3:5-6 “Not that we are competent of ourselves to claim anything as coming from us; our competence is from God,  who has made us competent to be ministers of a new covenant, not in a written code but in the Spirit….”
This new covenant is sometimes also called the new testament. It is special because Jesus himself established it with his own body and blood as we read in Luke 22:19-20 “Jesus took bread, and when he had given thanks he broke it and gave it to them, saying, ‘This is my body which is given for you. Do this in remembrance of me.’ And likewise the cup after supper, saying, ‘This cup which is poured out for you is the new covenant in my blood.’ ”
We sometimes focus on the new things that quickly wear out, but in this new year Jesus wants to make our heart, soul, and mind new so that we can be worthy messengers of his new covenant.
The man in the meeting whose phone rang went home to find new clothes, new jewelry, and a new car. All these new things did not make him new and did not bring him new joy.
Even for us, we are not better off if we have new clothes, but remain the same old person. We are not better off if we have a new car, but continue to go in the same old direction. And we are not better off if we have a new house, but keep our same old negative attitudes in our home. There will be nothing new about this year if we do not first commit to making ourselves new through prayer, reading scripture, and actively trying to live our faith.
In this new year, Jesus wants to give us a new heart, show us a new way, and remind us of his new commandment: “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another; even as I have loved you….” (John.13:34)
When we live our faith in these ways we will indeed be able to wish each other a happy new year because our happiness will not be based on what we purchased but who we are becoming as new and renewed men and women of faith.