“Light, happiness and peace.” That’s what I say at funerals. No, this is not a depressing sermon.

Apparently, however, it appears that those wonderfully blessed and God-given words are finally announced…at your funeral! And you’re not there. You’re in that other “there,” finally enjoying what was apparently lacking here.

These days, however, we can’t say and live those three long words. “Oh, no!” We need to shorten it for the populace like we did for “light.” It’s now Miller “LITE” beer. Apparently, adding a fifth letter cost more. So, let’s call them “LHP.” Sounds like a pesticide applied to your summer lawn.

Yet, what does LITE have to say about “light, happiness, and peace?” Everything is wrong when it’s spelled LITE. Those three beautiful words are perfectly matched when they are matched with three other worthy life words, “darkness, selfishness, unrest.”

LITE is what most people expect out of life. It’s the most they can hope for. That’s pretty sad when, all the time, those fully spelled words are living within each of us. Did I mention, “wonderfully blessed and God-given words?”

I guess as you listen to me, you expect me to say this stuff because we’re in a sacred place, halfway through Mass, waiting for communion; and I’m saying what priests are supposed to say. I say it, you listen, and we all leave returning to our LITE lives.

The first reading talks about “refining,” purifying” in order for a perfect sacrifice. Sounds like darkness and selfishness to me. We know that we often fall short of that faithful mark. That’s when the refining and purifying stuff fills us up. Imagine someone with a dire diagnosis, we probably don’t need to imagine. it. We know plenty of them. Yet, how can they be full of disease and still uncover and experience peace or light, and you can just forget about the “H,” happiness? It’s because they model their lives after the woman who was also full of it herself. Hers was the grace as is the grace that fills our bodies far more than any disease can.

Diseases are often described in stages. God’s three words are not stages but slowly growing movements that only deepens and grows like the exquisite movements of a beloved symphony. A stage ends with the next one beginning. A spiritual movement blossoms into the next movement remembering the previous.

That’s what makes God’s three words eternal, immortal and living within the part of us that cannot die, the soul; the deepest part of us. “Because he himself was tested through his suffering,” says Hebrews, “he is able to help those who are being tested.” Do you want a better definition of the Body of Christ?

The Gospel has “amazed” parents and onlookers. “Contradicted” is heard a few times ending with the child growing in with three more God-given words, “strength, wisdom, and favor.” A Christian lived life can be a contradiction to common understandings or acceptances.

You don’t have to buy the “light, happiness and peace” I’m talking about. You can always default and sadly settle for the LITE of this world … that’s a fake beer and you remain uncomfortably comfortable living between the stages of darkness, selfishness, and unrest. Isn’t that a great pairing of words that we often unconsciously resign ourselves to? “Uncomfortably comfortable.” What I’m selling isn’t for sale. Through all of our life’s successes, setbacks, and settlings that we settle into, it’s already living and breathing within each of us.

But don’t take my word for it. Just look deeper within yourself.

About Rev. Joe Jagodensky, SDS.

A Roman Catholic priest since 1980 and a member of the Society of the Divine Savior (Salvatorians). Six books on the Catholic church and U.S. culture are available on
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