You probably know that Disneyland, the home of Mickey Mouse and Minnie and all their friends, is called “the happiest place on earth.” Yet some people think Disneyland represents a false, shallow, or materialistic version of reality—surely it could bear no resemblance to the Gospel message? But when Disneyland opened in 1955, Walt Disney said he wanted “this happy place…(to be) a source of joy and inspiration to all the world.”
Walt Disney himself had the opposite of a happy childhood—abuse, school failures, and later business failures. But his life’s dream was always to bring people back to their original innocence and joy in living, to restore happiness. “The worst of us is not without innocence, although buried deeply it might be. In my work I try to reach and speak to that innocence, showing it the fun and joy of living…showing it that the human species, although happily ridiculous at times, is still reaching for the stars.” Today, we hear a similar message in our Scripture readings: Isaiah saying, “Rejoice! I’ve got good news for the poor!” Mary saying, “My spirit rejoices in God,” and Paul giving advice on how to live with deep happiness. We would love to be this joyful, but the pursuit of happiness seems like a struggle. We wonder, “How is it possible to be truly joyful in this world?”
It is simple. The saints can be happy for one reason: they pour ALL their joys and ALL their tragedies into the one place big enough to hold every memory in existence forever—God’s heart. It is God’s heart that loved YOU into existence. As time draws near to hear the Christmas story again, it is good to recall how that story will “end”—that the power of Jesus’ Resurrection “dispels all evil, washes guilt away, restores lost innocence, bring mourners joy!”
“In many paintings [of the Annunciation], Mary is depicted seated before the Angel with a small book. This book is the Scripture. Thus Mary was usually listening to God and dwelling on Him. Her secret was the Word of God: close to her heart, who then took flesh in her womb. By remaining with God, conversing with him in every circumstance, Mary made her life beautiful. Not appearance, not what passes, but a heart pointed to God is what makes life beautiful” (Pope Francis, December 8, 2017). May you have a good week and may God bless and love you, and Mary watch over you, and keep you always in their loving care!
Listen to my homily today:
Joyfully in the Lord,
Rev. Msgr. Edward J. Arnister
Pastor, St. Rose Parish