A beautiful reflection from Msgr Pope today….here’s an excerpt from his post here:
After this severe beating, likely bloody and in extreme pain, Paul and Silas were bound by leg shackles and cast into the deepest and darkest cell of the prison. The cell likely contained rats and vermin and any water was likely contaminated with human waste.
All this would be enough to lead most people into despair and self-pity. Yet what do we find?
About midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the other prisoners were listening to them (Acts 16:26).
Despite a terrible beating, severe pain, and horrible conditions, they were singing and praising God loudly enough for the other prisoners to hear.
Here is a remarkable teaching: happiness is an inside job. Paul and Silas, despite every physical discomfort, had a joy that could not be repressed or taken away. Their connection to God could not be severed.
Too often, we root our happiness in external matters such as money, esteem, and creature comforts. Yet many who have these things in abundance are still unhappy, while many who lack them are happy. Happiness goes deeper than external matters. There is a joy we can have that the world didn’t give and therefore cannot take away.
There are moments of sorrow and tension in every life, including mine, but deep down there is a stable serenity the Lord has given me for which I am overwhelmingly grateful. I have come to discover that deep inner place of peace, joy, and contentment—and it is largely unaffected by external factors.
There is a Greek word, μακάριοι (makarioi), which describes a kind of stable happiness or blessed state. The pagan Greeks used it to refer to the happiness of the gods, which was unaffected by worldly matters. Jesus takes up the verb form of the word in the beatitudes: Blessed are the poor in spirit, for the Kingdom of Heaven is theirs. In other words, stably blessed and happy are those who have their treasure in Heaven rather than in this passing and unstable world.