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I THOUGHT YOU SHOULD KNOW | Living the lifestyle God wants for us leads to happiness

“Jesus turned and saw them following Him and said to them, ‘What are you looking for?’”

We would each do well to ask ourselves this question: "What am I looking for?"

At one time in our lives, each of us thought that we were the most important person in our world because that is all we knew. Others existed to love us, nurture us and take care of us.

But then we found out that we were in competition with others for attention, nurturing and toys. We came to realize that others have the same needs.

At first we didn't like to hear it when we were asked to share our toys and gifts of love. However, that is when we were introduced to Jesus who loves us so deeply and makes it possible to love others with His love.

We gradually made a great leap of faith. Not only does God love us unconditionally, but He also loves us through others, and He calls us to love others with His love. To feel God's love coming to us through others and to have the privilege of sharing His love with others was a great breakthrough.

While all of this felt good when we did it, we didn't always love others in this way. We found it difficult to live up to God's expectations.

So I go back to my original question: "For what am I searching? When am I the happiest? What is going on at that time? Could it be that I am really searching for a very deep inner peace?" To answer this question, allow the disciples to ask the question with us and for us: "Rabbi...where are you staying?" If Jesus is that peaceful and filled with joy, perhaps we could find peace and fulfillment living where He lives.

We are making progress in refining our search for happiness. Our deepest hunger seems to be to live with someone who loves us perfectly, understands us thoroughly and forgives us totally. In fact we discover that there are really three such persons, the Father, the Son our Savior, and the Holy Spirit our comforter.

We are invited to live in their midst for all eternity. So what we really hunger for is the lifestyle of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit, in this life. St. Augustine said it well: "Our hearts are restless until they rest in you, Oh Lord."

However, when we fail to live that lifestyle, we are unhappy with ourselves and with others. It's not because we're evil, but rather it's because we aren't yet ready to practice living God's lifestyle for all eternity. Sometimes when our frustrations get the better of us, we say to Jesus: "Where do you live?" His response is the same as it was to the first disciples: "Come and see."

Our life in the body is one of discovery and loss, of success and disappointment. In the second reading, St. Paul tells us: "The body is not for immorality, but for the Lord and the Lord is for the body; God raised the Lord and will also raise us by His power."

Paul continues, "Do you not know that your bodies are members of Christ? But whoever is joined to the Lord becomes one Spirit with Him." Yes, the Father has placed within us a hunger for holiness. Christ, the Son of God, offers us total remission for all of our sins, and God the Holy Spirit is ready to fill us with His Spirit to make it all happen.

So why do we allow ourselves to become so miserable by our habits of anger, lust, resentment, avarice, and sloth? If we belong to God, as Paul says we do, then why not give to God what belongs to God? We don't have to become discouraged by our weaknesses, but rather give ourselves to God and allow Him to have fun in our lives, beginning with repentance so that we can again experience His mercy. Why not give ourselves to Him so that He can live His life through us? If His lifestyle makes us so incredibly happy, then why not live it?

God has far more mercy than we have sins, far more love than we have selfishness and far more holiness than we have lust. Why not give to God what belongs to Him and simply allow Him to live His life through us.

He needs us to give Him permission to live His lifestyle. So, for example, if you are living out an addiction to pornography, you don't have to stay there. Spend more time reflecting on the Stations of the Cross than you do viewing pornography. You will then find within you the person your soul loves. He will lead you to repentance and to reconciliation so that you can experience the hunger for God ripening within you.

Falling in love with Christ means falling out of love with our favorite habit of sin. Our habits of sin will not go away automatically, but only to the extent that the lifestyle of Jesus begins to take us over.

You can experience living the lifestyle of Jesus within you by generously spending quiet time with Him in prayer. This means giving the TV a much-needed rest and spending that time with your best friend. He wants to teach you how you can turn a habit of sin into a virtue. He wants you to have the joy of sharing the love He reveals to you in prayer.

When you are most out of sorts, allow your heart to ask Jesus: "Where do you live?" Then allow your heart to hear His loving answer: "Come and see!" 

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