In the beginning of his treatise, “Nicomachean Ethics”, Aristotle explores the question of happiness. Although a philosophical inquiry based on human experience, in an ancient world that freely refers to the gods, Aristotle praises happiness by referencing divine intervention:
If there is any gift of the gods to men, it is reasonable that happiness should be god-given, and most surely god-given of all human things inasmuch as it is the best.
Happiness is the “best thing” he tells us. But, what is happiness? Per Aristotle (if I understand him correctly!), happiness is a life lived in communion with what is our proper human end. Such life engages intellect and will (mind and heart), necessitates inner strength, and takes time. What is our proper human end? For Aristotle, there are two: another human person (in deep friendship) and the Divine.
As a Christian, I know, in faith, that I have been mercifully found by God, by Christ, God-become-human, God-come-immeasurably-close. Jesus is my most “proper end”, the deepest love of my life. This relationship into which we are drawn is more intimate than Aristotle could fathom: super-happiness indeed, the fullness of which occurs when we see, face-to-face, the One with whom we are in relationship. This gift of relationship with God is gratuitously bestowed upon us in the midst of whatever we may be experiencing—health issues, financial problems, loneliness, tears or persecution. “Blessed are you” Jesus promises.
Let us dare to be happy in the Lord…
Yours in Him,