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Where is True Happiness Found? Part 2

Homer J. Simpson is my hero.  As I’ve mentioned before, The Simpsons is one of my all-time favorite TV shows.  One of my favorite episodes was the time Homer backed the car over his daughter Lisa’s “saxamaphone”.  (That’s how Homer pronounces saxophone) 

The episode begins with Homer lusting over a fancy new air conditioning unit he’s had his eye on.  It’s a miserably hot summer, and Homer, overweight and out of shape, suffers more than the average person from the effects of the heat!  But just at the moment he’s saved up enough to buy it, he destroys Lisa’s saxamaphone, which, he finds out, will cost—to the very last penny—the exact same amount to replace.  He can only afford to buy one or the other. 

Caught in the horns of this dilemma, Homer tries everything he can think of to get around it.  In one hysterical scene, he’s sitting on the couch in nothing but his tighty-whiteys.  But it’s so hot, he’s sweating profusely just sitting there.  He begins moaning and groaning for some relief.  Desperate, he grabs a bag of frozen peas from the freezer and sits on it.  It’s quite the visual!   

Not getting much relief from the frozen peas, he notices his next door neighbor, Ned Flanders, cooling off in his well-airconditioned house.  So, he sneaks next door and manages to steal his air conditioner.  The following scene shows Flanders standing outside of Homer’s living room window.  Now he’s the one suffering from the effects of the oppressive heat.  But Flander’s air conditioner is working so well for Homer that Flanders has to wipe the frost off the window to get a good look inside.  When he does, he sees Homer covered in heavy winter clothes with icicles running down his face!

After returning Flander’s air conditioner, Homer’s exhausted every possible way he can think of to get out of his dilemma.  At the end of the episode, he’s faced with a simple choice: Buy himself the air conditioner of his dreams, or buy Lisa a new saxamaphone. 

If you know anything about Homer Simpson, you know that he is the caricature of the self-indulgent American, the singly-minded creature-comfort-seeking individual.  He is as self-absorbed as they come.  

But in a shockingly out-of-character move, this as-self-absorbed-as-they-come caricature of all that is self-indulgent, sacrifices the very thing he wants most in order to make his daughter happy.  

And, as the episode fades out with Lisa gleefully playing away on her new saxamaphone, Homer is completely delighted.  He exudes a joy and contentment that is rare for him on the show. 

This is why Homer is my hero.  Every so often, this most unlikely of characters displays a heroic love and, even though it’s only a cartoon, points to the deeper Truth that true happiness is only found in sacrificial love.

Yes, it may be counterintuitive.  It may clash with the prevailing wisdom.  It may run up against the cultural propaganda.  But from celebrities like Meghan Markle to the quiet desperation of our own ordinary lives, experience teaches us that true happiness cannot be found by getting what we want most.  In the end, that only leaves us lonely, empty, and depressed.

No, true happiness is only found in sacrificial love.  It’s only found by denying ourselves.  It’s only found, as Jesus said, through the Cross.

Paradoxically, dying to self—what Jesus meant by telling us to take up our cross—enlarges us and expands our joy.  With each person we love sacrificially, each life we impact for good, each heart we touch, our lives are enriched, often exponentially so.

So as crazy as Jesus’ teaching first seems, our modern culture is in as good a position as human beings have ever found themselves in to verify how true it is.  We see how true it is that making it to the top, fulfilling all your dreams, getting everything you’ve always wanted will never fully satisfy you, and usually only depress you. 

Though much harder to do—it does after all involve a real death to self, to the things we want for ourselves—following Jesus’ way of self-emptying love is the true way to fulfillment. 

The Cross is where true happiness is found. 

What makes you happy?  Do you think Jesus has this right?  I’d love to hear what you think!  You can leave any comments or questions on the “Contact E.J.” page of the Raising Jesus website.  Also, please “Like” our Facebook page and subscribe to our YouTube channel.  Thank you!

About Me

E.J. Sweeney is a true skeptic. He needs to see to believe. Hard Evidence. Compelling Proof. Solid Logic. This is what he believes in. In college, he encountered questions that the superficial faith he was raised on couldn’t handle. So he began a quest for Truth, a quest for the answers to life’s ultimate questions.

EJ Sweeney

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