Something to Smile About

Fr. Kevin Dillon

Fr. Kevin Dillon is the Pastor of St. Boniface Martyr Parish, Sea Cliff, Long Island, NY.

Billboards are a common phenomenon along the Interstates and Freeways of America; in fact, some local streets also place billboards along the side of the road in an effort to advertise a product or raise awareness about a prominent social, political or economic issue. In a certain sense, this too, is a form of advertising. Right here in our own parish boundaries, there is a billboard. It is located on Sea Cliff Avenue right next to the Sea Cliff Long Island Railroad Station. It features a tiger saying, “I don’t need to be a rug on your living room floor.” I think most people can figure out what the tiger is implying!

On a much lighter and more optimistic note, a billboard located in the Pacific Northwest area of the United States simply reads “SMILE.” Smiling is contagious and it leads to happiness, not just in us, but it can be good and healthy for others as well. This type of messaging, however, is not limited to just one billboard.

The Joy Team is a not for profit organization, based in Vancouver, Washington whose sole purpose is to put positivity out into the world. According to founder, Michele McKeag, the Joy Team’s mission is build community, by spreading, joy, optimism and inspiration. Among some of the billboards’ sayings are HAPPINESS IS CONTAGIOUS; SMILE, START AN EPIDEMIC; ENJOY THE MOMENT; and BE EXCELLENT TO EACH ANOTHER!

This Fourth Sunday in Lent we as Catholics have good reason to SMILE! Traditionally, this day is called LAETARE SUNDAY, which comes from the Latin. The English translation is simply REJOICE! Our Responsorial Psalm for today has overtones of joy and optimism in it. In fact, the Psalmist exhorts us in his own words, “Look to Him [God] that you may be radiant with joy,” and the Entrance Antiphon (which is used at masses without singing) also reminds us to Rejoice; “Rejoice O Jerusalem; your sorrow has ended.” Laetare Sunday marks the midpoint of our Lenten journey. Today, the Church relaxes some of the somber and penitential underpinnings of Lent. We take a break from the heavy and dark color of purple, to a more festive rose (pink) color, a joyful and happy reminder that the glory of Easter is not far away.

Our Holy Father, Pope Francis has some poignant and thought provoking one line statements. One of my favorite ones is “THERE ARE MANY CHRISTIANS WHOSE LIVES ARE LIKE LENT WITHOUT EASTER! For us as Christians, every day should be a joyful and positive experience, despite worries, anxieties, fears and preoccupations that we all live with because we are the recipients of God’s overwhelming love, grace and mercy. Even the horrors and blood of the cross, give us great peace, and dare I say something to rejoice and be happy about. The cross helps us make sense of our own sufferings, pain and failures. We unite all our hardships and pain with those of Jesus Christ’s act of suffering on the cross. We live with the knowledge and certitude that the cross ultimately leads to newer, fuller, and richer life; ETERNAL LIFE with JESUS CHRIST. Now that’s something to smile about!

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