by Father Mark Goldasich
You’d think once Easter was over, things would calm down. Actually, the opposite is true. Now, there are confirmations and first Communions, weddings, baptisms, graduations, Mother’s Day — all these in addition to the regular duties and demands of life. It’s easy for all of us to feel overwhelmed, stressed out, beat.
When those feelings bubble up in me, I turn to this little story for comfort and perspective:
Once upon a time a wealthy businessman came across a fisherman sitting idly by his boat. Disturbed at this, the businessman asked, “Hey, why aren’t you out there fishing?”
“Because I’ve caught enough fish for today,” was the reply.
“Why don’t you catch more fish than you need?” asked the businessman.
“What would I do with them?” said the fisherman.
“You could earn more money and buy a better boat so you could go deeper and catch more fish,” replied the businessman. “You could then purchase nylon nets, catch even more fish, and make more money. Soon you’d have a fleet of boats and be rich like me!”
“Then what would I do?” asked the fisherman.
The businessman answered, “You could sit down and enjoy life!”
With a broad smile, the fisherman replied, “And just what do you think I’m doing right now?” (Adapted from a story found in “Nelson’s Complete Book of Stories, Illustrations, & Quotes” by Robert J. Morgan.)
Last Sunday we heard one of my favorite Gospels (Jn 20: 19-31). I can’t tell you how many times I feel like those fearful apostles, locked in a room away from the crowds. Suddenly, the risen Jesus appears “in their midst” and the first word out of his mouth is “Peace.” The effect of that word is immediate: “The disciples rejoiced.” Then Jesus wishes them peace again. The same thing will happen in that Gospel a week later when Thomas is finally with the group: Jesus will stand in their midst and wish them peace.
Peace. Just saying this word brings a sense of comfort. If you have peace in your heart, you’re a contented person, much like that fisherman in the opening story. Peace brings perspective. Peace helps us align our priorities.
It’s no accident either, that John’s Gospel mentions that the risen Jesus stands in the midst of the disciples. This is as true for us today as it was for them 2000 years ago. When we’re feeling put upon, scattered, and worried, one of the first things we forget is that we’re not alone in the struggle. Most of us are privileged to have family and friends around to support us. But even if that’s not the case, one person is always right there with us: the risen Jesus. And the gift he brings is peace.
Sometimes, though, what I know to be true in my heart takes longer for my head to understand and believe. At those times, I grab a cup of coffee or a glass of iced tea, plop down on the couch and imagine Jesus sitting there with me. I have an informal talk with him and pour out my worries and frustrations . . . and then I ask for his peace.
Usually that peace comes through recognizing all the blessings that are already there in my life. Often I’ll pull out a rosary at this point. Rather than saying the traditional prayers, however, I’ll do a litany of thanksgiving instead. With each bead, I call to mind someone or something I’m grateful for. Before long, even though the “rosary” is done, there’s still plenty of blessings I haven’t yet mentioned. This awareness brings not only perspective, but humility and peace.
Most of us tend to live like that businessman in the story: We’re never content; we’re constantly in motion, trying to fill ourselves up with “more,” hoping to find peace and fulfillment at some point in the future. The fisherman has a better idea: Sit down, remember what you’re already blessed with, and appreciate life now. It will make you a contented person.
Peace is a powerful Easter gift, a blessing we all need. But as someone once said, “Good fortune must serve more than the fortunate.” It’s our good fortune to have the risen Christ in our midst. Especially in this Easter season, let’s shake off our fears, unlock the doors, and make sure that we serve our fractured world by sharing Christ’s peace with it.