A number of years ago I attended the episcopal ordination of a new auxiliary bishop in another diocese. At the end of the ceremony, as is the custom, the newly minted bishop addressed a few remarks to the assembled congregation. He thanked everyone for attending and participating in the ceremony; he thanked God for his priestly vocation; and then he said this: “I’ve never had an unhappy day as a priest!”
Those words struck me then and remain with me now. He didn’t just say that he was happy being a priest, or that he never regretted his vocation. He said he “never had an unhappy day!” “Wow,” I thought to myself. “Either this guy has been really lucky or he’s out of touch with reality.” Everyone, in any field of endeavor, has some unhappy days, don’t they?
As a parent, or a spouse, haven’t you had some unhappy days? As a teacher, a student, a nurse, a banker, a truck driver, a sales clerk, a journalist, a whatever . . . haven’t you had some unhappy days?
Unhappiness comes from many sources – a health problem, terrible weather, an argument with a co-worker, an auto accident, a cancelled flight, or your favorite team losing in the playoffs. Having a bad day doesn’t mean that you’re clinically depressed. It just means that something has happened to make you unhappy. And that’s okay; being unhappy, at least sometimes, is a normal part of life.
The Gospels remind us that Jesus had some days when he wasn’t happy. How about when, in anger, he cleansed the temple of its money changers? Or when he berated the scribes and Pharisees for their blatant hypocrisy? Or when one of his friends, Judas, betrayed him? Or as he suffered his agony in the garden?
The question is, when we have unhappy days, what do we do about it? Well first, I guess, is to keep it in perspective. Not every event that makes us unhappy is a life-changing crisis. And when we experience unhappiness, it’s important to focus on the other good and positive things in our lives. And, of course, to pray about it. When we pray, we’re better able to patch together the good days and the bad days into the quilt of our lives and to understand God’s plan for us.
But I do wonder if the new bishop mentioned above has had any unhappy days now, as a bishop. I think he probably has.
Something to think about: When you have an unhappy day, how do you deal with it?
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