Miserable in Paradise

Years ago, while I was working as a deacon in a very wealthy parish one summer, I was forming a youth group and asked one of the teenagers of the church if he wished to join. He stated that it wasn’t possible, as he would be on vacation that summer with his family. I will never forget his words. “We’re going to Switzerland. Again! I am so tired of going to Switzerland!” Miserable in paradise.

A friend told me of a lunch he had with an extremely wealthy client whose worth was over $800,000,000. When my friend complimented him on his success, the response was, “Yeah. It’s nice. But I’d like to have a billion. A billion would do it.” Miserable in paradise.

I think to myself, “I’m not like that, am I?” Am I? I am always aware of the wealth that surrounds me. The ordinary riches of food, shelter and clothing. Of health, friendship, and loving family. There is the greater wealth in which I live: a secure city, a relatively safe country, freedoms about which others can only dream.

So, I should be satisfied, right? Then why the yearning for more? Why the attraction of the new gismo, the faster operating system, the new video game, the more beautiful beach to visit, the greater vacation that beckons, the better paradise.

A traveler was told, “You have not lived until you have seen the Taj Mahal.” He answered, “I have.” “Yes” came the response. “But by night?” It’s not enough to see the Taj Mahal. You have to see it by night. Miserable in paradise.

What is the answer to this craving for the new, the next? Is it a simple matter of counting one’s blessings? I don’t think so. As good as that is, if it were enough, it would have resolved the unending desire for more. Our Lord came into our world to show us how we are to live new life. The resurrection is all about reimagining how our life is truly to be lived. Jesus said, “I have come to bring life. And life in abundance. (John 10:10). That is it. That is the key. When I am living in love, I am living abundant life. And I want for nothing.

So. How’s my love life? If it’s good, then I am living in the abundance. If it isn’t, then I am miserable in paradise.

FR. JIM

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