Irony of Life

There was a man who had three friends. He adored two of them and was ready to do anything for them. On the other hand, he did not care much about his third friend. Paradoxically this third friend was the one who respected him most.

One day this man was sent to jail. Naturally he asked his friends to help him out of this predicament. The first friend simply ignored his pleas for assistance; he did not even bother to contact him. The second friend accompanied him to the patio of the court and then, not wanting to find himself involved in all this mess, excused himself. The third friend, the least regarded by our protagonist, went in with him to court and spoke so highly of him that he was released.

This story is the parable of our life. We, too, have three friends.

The first friend is called money. We work so hard for it, we struggle so much to have always more, we do anything to acquire additional money or to hoard what we have. Yet, this friend unfortunately is the first one to vanish when we really need him. Money has never cured our depression or brought us out of our rut. Indeed, when we need it most, it disappears.

The second friend is called family. Family is fine and can be heartwarming. Dad, mum, husband, wife, kids… they all provide emotional support. But in the real problems of life – solitude, meaning of life, why suffering? – what can this friend do? Family may ease the pain, but the wound remains.

Then we have the third friend. His name is Jesus. Over and over again we pay little attention to Him but He is the one who can help us most. He is the one who will always defend us.

Someone wisely remarked that even though many know about Him, very few know Him.

“Someone was telling me that you have joined the Neocatechumenal Way in your parish. Is it true?”

“Yes.”

“So, now you know a lot more about Jesus Christ. Can you tell me the political situation of the Holy Land when Jesus was born?”

“I don’t know.”

“Can you tell me what the legal procedures which led to his death were?”

“I don’t know.”

“So what do you know?”

“You are right. I should be ashamed that I know so little about Him. But I know one thing. Three years ago I used to drink, I could not pay my debts, my family was breaking up, my wife and children used to be terrified when I arrived home. Now I don’t drink, I am gradually paying off my debts, at home we get along better, my children are happy. This is what Jesus Christ has done for me. This is what I know…”

Perhaps now we can understand this anecdote. St. Thomas Aquinas is the greatest theologian the Catholic Church has ever known. Once in prayer he had an experience of God. After this, he refused to write anything more about God. When his secretary asked him why he had stopped writing, this Doctor of the Church said thoughtfully, “the moment I tasted God, I realized that all that I had written was just straw…”

He had written volumes. But God is more.


(c) Fr. Pius Sammut, OCD. Permission is hereby granted for any non-commercial use, provided that the content is unaltered from its original state, if this copyright notice is included.