FEATURE ARTICLE

Fr Pat Amobi ChukwumaSunday, December 17, 2017
amobipchuks@yahoo.com


ARE YOU HAPPY?

n January last year, I was relaxing under an umbrella tree and receiving cool breeze to dilute the heat of the sun on that sunny Sunday afternoon. Immediately sleep wanted to snatch me, I heard a distress cry of a woman. Emotionally, I opened my eyes and jumped up. What did I see? Behold a young married lady was standing before me shedding tears. Her face was totally battered like a living house shattered by war plane. She couldn't control her tears. I asked her what happened for about seven times. The tears in her eyes could not allow her to utter a word. When she came to her senses, she regrettably said, "Father, I am finished. I married a devil incarnate as husband. He is a wild beast and a sadist. He makes me unhappy and wants me dead by all means. Life has become meaningless to me. Above all, I am childless and helpless. Please deliver me or I kill myself." She started crying profusely again. A cluster of people stood in a semi-circle watching helplessly. It took me a long time to console her and bring her back to normalcy.

Then I asked her where she hails from and the name of her husband. She told me that she hails from Okirika but resides at Adazi with her wicked husband. According to her, the husband's name is Friday alias Damage. I burst out laughing. She sighed and told me that it was not a laughing matter. I obliged. But I ended up smiling. I explained to her that it was on a Friday that Jesus was crucified on the cross by the Jews. Hence her husband Friday is also crucifying her. The nickname 'Damage' led him into damaging her face. Indeed she married a double tragedy - Friday and Damage. In essence the damage has been done.

On making further enquiry I discovered that the battered lady's name is Happiness. On hearing this, I tried to control the laughter in my face but all to no avail. I burst out laughing such that tears of joy ran down my cheeks. The lady Happiness asked me, "Father what is wrong? Are you also crying?" I replied, "Mine are tears of joy, but yours are tears of sorrow." The two of us began to laugh simultaneously. Then I asked her, "Are you happy?" She answered, "For now I am happy externally but sad internally." At this I chipped in, "Your name is Happiness. You should always be happy. Sadness is not your portion. Try to accommodate your crucifying husband, Friday. Exercise patience with him. Pray fervently for him for a change of heart. I will remember both of you in prayer. Very soon things will change for better in your family." She beamed with an extraordinary smile. She then knelt down and I poured down heavenly blessings upon her. At last I took her to a nearby hospital for the repair of her damaged face. She felt very happy as she left for home.

Six months later, she came back to give testimony that things have changed for good in her family. The damaging husband has received anointing from God and is now an ideal happy husband. In addition God has blessed them with an expectant baby. She is now happy internally and externally. Praise the Lord!

The term, Happiness, is a translation of the Greek concept of "eudaimonia," which refers to good life. Happiness is a virtue that makes one feel some pleasure towards the good. Sonja Lyubomirsky describes happiness as "the experience of joy, contentment, or positive well-being, combined with a sense that one's life is good, meaningful and worthwhile." Happiness gladdens the heart and prolongs life. The Catechism of the Catholic Church tells us that God created us to love him, to serve him here on earth and to be happy with him forever in heaven. No wonder God created man and woman happily and housed them in Paradise or the Garden of happiness (Eden). Initially the first man Adam was filled with gladness being in that garden in the midst of brutes. However, his happiness was limited by loneliness of being the only rational being among the animals. In order that his happiness may be complete, God lured Adam into a deep sleep and extracted a rib from his right hand side. God used the rib and fashioned it into a woman and brought her to Adam. When Adam saw her, he exclaimed, "At last this is flesh from flesh, bone from my bone!" (Gen. 2:23). Out of happiness he called her woman, which means 'one taken from man.' Both Adam and Eve embraced themselves happily and settled in that Garden of happiness.

The devil is never comfortable when we are feeling happy. As a result he went into the Garden of happiness and enticed Eve to eat the fruit from the forbidden tree. He promised her that she and her husband Adam would become wise like God after consuming the fruit. Out of curiosity, Eve ate and took some home for her husband. After they had eaten, instead of becoming wise and happier, they saw themselves naked and sad. God sent his angels who drove the duo out of the Garden of happiness. Unhappiness, suffering and death became the consequences of the disobedience. At the fullness of time, God sent his only Son our Lord Jesus Christ to redeem sinful humanity from eternal damnation brought about by the Original sin.

Thus we commemorate annually the birth of our Saviour Jesus Christ. Prior to it we observe a 4-week preparation period known as Advent. We are now into the third week. Our salvation is nearer. We are exclaiming with joy, "Maranatha!" which means "Come Lord Jesus!" Today we are celebrating the "Gaudete" Sunday. It is a Latin word meaning 'rejoice.' Immediately I rose from bed on this day of rejoicing, I sang praises to God and danced for about thirty minutes before taking my morning shower. When I entered the church for early morning liturgy, the happiness in my face was radiating and affected the congregants. In this third week of Advent we light the rose candle which signifies joy. We are rejoicing, because our Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ, comes to deliver us from the bondage of sin. We have all sinned and fell short of the grace of God. We are now adopted children of God through Jesus Christ. The Word made flesh is dwelling among us. At Christmas we commemorate the Incarnation of the Word of God. As I said earlier, Jesus Christ is no more to be born in the manger but in our hearts, if we are found worthy. Let us level the hedges and remove the obstacles on the way into our hearts. We should be happy because the gate of heaven, which was closed after the unfortunate fall of man, is now thrown open by the birth, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. Therefore Saint Paul emphatically says, "Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, Rejoice!" (Philippians 4:4). Human life is too short to be sad. I want you now to laugh for five minutes before reading further. Have you done so? If yes, then you are not far from the Kingdom of Happiness.

As Jesus reconciled us sinful humanity with God, let us reconcile with those who have stepped on us unjustly. We cannot be happy alone. Happiness must be shared. We make the hungry happy by feeding them. When we visit the sick, we bring happiness and hope into their despairing lives. When we visit prisoners, they feel belonged and not condemned. They radiate with happiness. The needy, the sad and the lonely need our material and spiritual consolation. If we make others happy, then we feel happy ourselves. The words of comfort we say to others can bring healing to their lives. Although we should be careful, but we should avoid dismissing the restless who come to us for counseling and for prayer. The smile we make to them can solve a lot of problems.

In our country Nigeria, bad leadership and economic hardship are obstacles to happiness for Nigerians. Despite these, Nigerians are the happiest people in the whole world. My German friend confirmed that Nigerians are suffering but happy when he came on visit few years ago. When injustice, marginalization, tribalism, corruption, crimes and hatred are reduced to the barest minimum, we Nigerians shall be happier. Currently the Boko Haram insurgency and the menace of the bloody Fulani herdsmen are creating unhappiness in the lives of innocent Nigerians going about their normal businesses. President Buhari must do something tangible to assure Nigerians that he meant well for everybody and not for somebody. His inaction over the rampaging Fulani herdsmen is giving us concern. They are his people and he should call them to order. The life of Nigerians cannot be sacrificed at the altar of cattle. The Fulani cattle herders and their owners should build ranches. Open crazing should be forbidden nationwide. Farmers should be allowed to plant their crops without molestation from herdsmen. The farmers and herdsmen can live happily if they respect the right of each other.

Few days ago, the Governor of Imo State, Rochas Okorocha, created the Ministry of Happiness in the state. He appointed his sister as the Commissioner of Happiness and Purpose Fulfillment. This entails that happiness must be enforced on the Imolites from now. Anyone found looking sad or grumbling in Imo State would be arrested and prosecuted according. Please whenever you set foot into Imo State, try to be laughing or smiling even if you are dying in silence. Some believe that the Governor is ridiculing governance. Before the creation of this new ministry, he has utilized huge sums of tax payers' money to mould statues of dubious African leaders at strategic places in Owerri, when workers are not promptly paid. Most citizens of the state are not happy with the Governor. Can statues bring happiness to hungry and jobless citizens? It might have been an afterthought to douse tension that the governor created this Ministry of Happiness and Purpose fulfillment. Will the commissioner go from house to house to make the people of Imo State happy? How? According to an anonymous reporter, the governor was concerned about the anger, bitterness and frustration in Imo State. Therefore, some measures were put in place to make the people happy. Let's watch and see how this happiness can be restored in Imo State.

For me, the quickest means of making the people happy is by the enjoyment of the dividends of democracy which include fear of God, good governance, good roads, constant electricity supply, portable water, job creation for the teeming unemployed youths, food production, equity and justice for all, good security network, etc. When workers and pensioners are paid promptly, they will be happy. You cannot make the pensioners happy when they have entered the grave as a result of hunger. President Buhari should also appoint the Minister of Happiness at this critical time when most Nigerians are fed up with the APC government.

In conclusion, let us reflect over the following quotations centered on happiness: "For every minute you are angry you lose sixty seconds of happiness" (Raph Waldo Emerson). "Happiness is when what you think, what you say, and what you do are in harmony" (Mahatma Gandi). "Happiness is not something ready-made. It comes from your own actions" (Dalai Lama XIV). "No medicine cures what happiness cannot" (Gabriel G. Marquez). "They say a person needs just three things to be truly happy in this world: someone to love, something to do, and something to hope for" (Tom Bodett). "Happiness is not the absence of problems; it's the ability to deal with them" (Steve Maraboli). "Happiness is the meaning and the purpose of life, the whole aim and end of human existence" (Aristotle). "Don't waste your time in anger, regrets, worries, and grudges. Life is too short to be unhappy" (Roy T. Bennett). A word is enough for the wise. Happy Christmas and prosperous New Year in advance!

IMAGES IN THE NEWS