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And the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favour with God. And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus. He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. And the Lord God will give to him the throne of his father David, and he will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of his kingdom there will be no end.” Luke 1: 30-33


That’s an unusual word. Eudemonism. Yes – but it describes the objective of all Jersey folk completely and accurately this Christmas. And it is also a word that is definitely not the message (bold above) of the angel to Mary – nine months before the first Christmas.


The etymology of “eudemonism” is Greek. First, “eu-” means good, well, happy. Second “-demon-” means in-dwelling-spirit. Third, “-ism” means a theory, a system, something followed. So, “eudemonism” means the pursuit of a happy spirit. Yes – the pursuit of inner happiness.


Eudemonism describes the over-arching objectives of the people of Jersey and of those governing the United Kingdom, the EU and all Western democracies. It also describes the objectives of President Assad of Syria and is the reason why he is killing Syrian people this very day.


In these days in Europe - when Jesus Christ and his life, teaching, death and resurrection are being sidelined – an alternative basis is needed for deciding right and wrong. Eudemonism is embraced anew – an ethical doctrine holding that the value of moral action lies in its capacity to produce happiness. In a democracy it’s the happiness of the greatest number of people. In Syria today it’s the happiness of the President and those close to him. So carry on killing.


It’s not that difficult to see where eudemonism ends, is it? Even in a democracy it may remove the one-in-seven day of rest. It may endorse practices that are corrupt in order to allow the “happiness” of a few. In fact, whatever is deemed to be “natural” becomes lawful and welcomed in the pursuit of the happiness of the flawed (all of us, I’m flawed too).


But how does this relate to the message to Mary in bold above? This angelic message was announced privately in AD 0, minus nine months, to a chaste young lady contractually bound in marriage to Joseph, of the house and genealogy of King David (c. 1000 BC)?


That message could rightly be described as an “evangel”. The “ev-” started out as “eu-” - the same “eu-” that means good, well, happy. And the “-angel”? That’s an angel, a messenger. Hence “good-message” or “gospel


Take a closer look at this “happy-good-angelic-message”. It is the basis of all “evangelism” – communication of good news - undertaken by followers of Jesus Christ. It has to do with following the supreme good that was (and is) the message of the angel to Mary - Jesus Christ Himself, the gift of the Almighty to all (flawed) mankind.


Evangelism has little to do with eudemonism. The latter is the pursuit of a happy spirit within as the only objective in life. The former recognises that all the things that are supposed to generate a happy spirit come from Jesus Christ anyway and, without Him, are only a temporary illusion or delusion.


What happiness (“eu-” or “ev-”) was there in the angel’s message to Mary? That happiness is promised to all mankind. Take a look -

1.     You have found favour with Almighty God, you a poor young lady in the despised town of Nazareth in Galilee, once part of God’s promised land but now inhabited by many peoples pursuing happiness of sorts without God. You will have a son.

2.     His name will be Jesus – meaning “Almighty God saves”.

3.     Your son (the Son of Man) will be – actually be – the Son of the Most High, the Son of Almighty God.

4.     This Son of Man (your son) will occupy the throne of King David, Joseph’s ancestor and yours. His reign will be for ever.

5.     This Son of Man’s kingdom (your son’s) will never come to an end – it will be infinite. It will be good and righteous.


Shall I carry on with my eudemonism? My pursuit of happiness itself which causes so much tragedy? Or shall I opt for the king of righteousness? And his kingdom of goodness that will have no end?

 ‘The end of life is not to be happy, nor to achieve pleasure and avoid pain, but to do the will of God, come what may.’  (Martin Luther King, Civil Right Leader, 1926-1968)
‘God cannot give us happiness and peace apart from Himself, because it is not there. There is no such thing.’ (C S Lewis, Author of The Chronicles of Narnia, 1898-1963)
Richard Syvret

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