It would be a mistake, of course, to expect perfect happiness this year or any year in this life. This innate, insatiable drive we all have for perfect happiness can only be satisfied in the next life. As St. Augustine said, “Lord, you have made us for yourself and our hearts are restless until they rest in Thee.” But there is a deep, lasting peace that everyone can have in this life.
Let us go to Bethlehem to see what it is. Look into the manger. Take your eyes away from the beautiful babe wrapped in swaddling clothes lying in the manger and look around. There are none of those things in which we seek happiness. There are no riches, no fame, no power, no conveniences, no pleasure, nothing but an empty, cold stable on the outskirts of Bethlehem. Then look at Mary and Joseph kneeling before the manger. They must be tired. They must be very hungry. They must be cold in this damp stable in the midst of winter. Yet in the midst of all of this, Mary and Joseph are the happiest people to walk the face of this earth. Here in Bethlehem they are teaching us the amazing paradox, that it is only when we lose ourselves in the love and service of Jesus do we find happiness. Happiness that this world can never give and no one can take from us. But how can we lose ourselves in the love and service of Jesus? Jesus has made it very simple, “Whatever you do for one of these least brethren you do for me.”
So on the first day of the New Year, let us ask for the grace to know Jesus more intimately, love him more ardently and follow him more closely, so that this may be a truly Happy New Year!