All We Need

There is a legend about a king who decided to set aside a special day to honor his greatest subject. When the big day arrived, a huge crowd gathered in the palace courtyard. Four finalists were brought forward, so the king could select the winner.

The first person presented was a wealthy philanthropist. The king was told that this man was highly deserving of the honor because of his humanitarian efforts. He had given much of his wealth to the poor. The second person was a celebrated physician. The king was told that this doctor was highly deserving of the honor because he had rendered faithful and dedicated service to the sick for many years. The third person was a distinguished judge. The king was told that the judge was worthy because he was noted for his wisdom, his fairness, and his brilliant decisions.

The fourth person presented was an elderly woman. Everyone was quite surprised to see her there, because her manner was quite humble, as was her dress. She hardly looked the part of someone who would be honored as the greatest subject in the kingdom. But, there was something about her – the look of love in her face, the understanding in her eyes, her quiet confidence.

The king was intrigued and somewhat puzzled by her presence. He asked who she was and why she should be considered at all. The answer came: “You see the philanthropist, the doctor, and the judge? Well, she was their teacher!”

Today’s first reading is the sermon Peter preached to the crowd of people who had been drawn to see what was happening as the events of Pentecost Sunday occurred. We know that their number was in the thousands. The story Peter recounts is so obvious to us. During his life, Jesus performed great signs and deeds in their midst. And by God’s own plan Jesus was delivered up to death on the Cross. Peter even quotes the words of their great king and poet David. And then he points out something that should be obvious, but was not yet appreciated. David is dead in his tomb. But, Jesus is alive.

The result of Peter’s simple sermon was remarkable. The Acts of the Apostles tells us that over three thousand people accepted Jesus as their Savior and were baptized that day. It did not happen because they were moved by Peter’s eloquence or the dramatic outpouring of the Spirit symbolized by tongues of flame and the roaring wind. It was the Spirit gently at work in each heart, convincing them that the most important person in their life now was Jesus Christ, living with them.

During this week of Easter, perhaps we need to pause and reflect on whether Jesus is the most important person in our life. We’re very familiar with the story, but sometimes it does not impress us as it should. We easily admit that we are not perfect, but we sometimes do not recognize what it cost Jesus to offer us forgiveness. Such powerful love cannot be taken for granted as we continue to excuse our sins because we are only human – we should be different because we live with Jesus.

And when we are tempted to be discouraged because things aren’t going as we expected, or suffering has entered our life, we remember that Jesus is with us and promises us that he will always be at our side in the darkness.
Even when someone we love has been taken from us, we remember that Jesus assures us that he has conquered death, and that his promise is that we will live forever with him. So, our present loss is only temporary because our loved one is alive, with Jesus.

Jesus is alive, and that makes all the difference. When he is the most important person in our life, we discover that whatever life brings, whoever we are with, wherever we go, we will be content, and confident, and filled with peace, because in the end, Jesus is all we need.

– Fr. Stephen W Bierschenk