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What’s the Measure?

I met a fellow in the park the other day, a common occurrence among folks out and about with their dogs, and I was surprised to discover how sad he was. Normally a very cheery and upbeat man, my friend seemed unusually troubled. In conversation, he was commenting about the state of the world, from Washington to China, and locally as well. I confess I walked away from our exchange pensive and, in some regard, agreeing for all of the causes of my friend’s “down” mood.
When all is said and done in life, not just in the big picture, but also every day, what is the measure of a life of joy, of happiness and meaning? And is such possible when all around us there appears chaos and fear, from guns to the economy and beyond?
For Christians, today is Easter Sunday, a day on which we commemorate the fundamental cause of our hope in life. The greatest of all fears is death, and on this day, we celebrate that Jesus conquered death in His resurrection from the tomb. All of the troubles of our times and our personal lives were known, as well, in the time of Jesus. He deliberately faced every form of injustice, rejection, poverty, discrimination, betrayal, torture, and death. Why?
The freedom of Jesus to choose all of this, to complete His Father’s plan for the salvation of humankind, speaks about the very nature of God. We profess: God is Love, and this is evident as we conclude Holy Week. For from the triumphal entry of Jesus into Jerusalem, through the Last Supper and the horror of Good Friday, and the miracle at dawn on Easter Sunday, we have been shown the depth of God’s love poured out for each and all.
So, while I concur with my friend in the park about reasons for sadness, I simultaneously believe God knows our troubles and has offered us a way forward toward hope. The way forward is in the person of, the life and teaching of, the example and words of, Jesus. Our moment, although it may seem of the greatest consequence, is not unlike other moments in times past and yet to come.
There is an old quote that I love that says, “Tell me where you stand and I’ll tell you what you see”. The question it seems is: “Where do I stand?” If I stand in that place that defines my happiness based on the state of the affairs of the world and all of the “stuff” of the world, then, it seems, I am in a very fragile and unreliable place. However, if I stand in that place that acknowledges mortality (the brevity of this sweet thing we call life), and believe in the God and Creator who is Love made manifest in Jesus, I see a future of Hope.
So in the midst of chaos, uncertainty and fear, we have a choice to make – a choice as to where we want to stand – the way of Love or the way of sadness and despair. For in the end, there is only one measure that matters: How well did you Love?

Fr. Ronan