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Here is my short list for good health: Get plenty of rest, breath clean air, eat a balanced diet, exercise, and don’t do drugs. What is the first thing they do when you are admitted to the hospital? They connect you to an I.V. machine, and they place a loud alarm beside your ear so that the alarm clock goes off all night and you can never get any rest. Then they lock all the windows so you breath in all the illnesses and diseases of the hospital. Next, they serve hospital food. Then they strap you in the bed so you cannot exercise, and then they pump you with drugs.
I was at the hospital with a family who had requested the sacrament of the sick. I started the prayers when the I.V. alarms went off, two of them. They were so loud, the family of the patient could not hear me. Naturally, none of the staff came to silence them, so I went out and found a nurse. As we were walking back to the room together, I told her what I thought about hospitals. At first, I thought she was going to be mad at me, but she surprised me by telling me that I was right. She said, “You do not begin to heal until you return home.”
Why is that? It is because of God. God gives us everything we need in our bodies to heal. Doctors do not heal broken bones. God does by putting stuff inside of us to help us recover quickly. We are fragile; we get hurt very easily. In life, we get banged up and bruised. God gives us what we need to heal.
Jesus died a horrific death, but he healed. After the resurrection, Jesus appears to seven of his disciples while they are fishing. They didn’t catch anything all night. So Jesus tells them to cast the net on the right side, and they will find “something.” They found something alright, 153 very large fish. Scripture scholars have scratched their heads for years trying to figure out the meaning of 153 fish. I know what 153 fish signifies. It means they are having a really good day. My ordination day was one of the most important days of my life. It happened almost 30 years ago. The entire day was a blur. I don’t remember who was there, what the bishop said, or what I wore. Two days later, dad and I went to the Salmon River, and I caught two very large steelheads. It was amazing. I remember every detail of that day. I could show you exactly where I was standing in the river when I caught the fish, and I remember the fly I what I was wearing. Another time I was engaged in a conversation about fishing with my father and a friend. The friend turns to me and says, “Oh, by the way, Happy birthday.” Dad heard him say that and asked me, “Is today your birthday?” I told him, “No, last week.” Dad said, “Oh, I forgot your birthday.” Then we continued the fishing conversation, and Dad recalled the first bluefish he ever caught out of the Cape Cod Canal. That was sixty years ago. He remembered that. So 153 very large fish mean you are having a really good day. But there is more. They are having breakfast on the beach with a charcoal fire. It is so nice, in fact, that it is illegal in Massachusetts to have breakfast on the beach with a charcoal fire.
Oh, and there is more. They have breakfast with their best friend who was dead and buried a week ago. Just when you think it doesn’t get any better than that, Jesus turns to Peter and tells him to feed the sheep. That means Peter is a shepherd because that is what shepherds do. If Peter is a shepherd of the church, it means that he was just made a Pope. So I am looking at this scene, and I am thinking: “Jesus is in a good mood. Jesus is dishing out all the gifts and promotions. Shouldn’t Jesus be angry? Shouldn’t Jesus be holding a grudge? Be brooding over his injuries? Should he be looking for higher quality disciples to replace the ones who abandoned him a week ago?” No, Jesus healed.
So the question I have is this: How did Jesus heal so quickly from such a terrible trauma of the cross? The Gospel of John tells us. Jesus told his disciples that he was going to return to the Father. He came from the bosom of the Father. Bosom is a term that means one is reclined at table having a meal together. I can picture the dinner in my mind. The Father and Jesus raised their glasses and the Father proposed a toast: “To my son who just saved the world.” Jesus has a reason to be happy. That is why he heals quickly
One time I got yelled at by someone. I forgot to mention the mass intention one day, and I got yelled for it. As I was getting a tongue lashing, “You bad priest.” I stood in silence with my head slightly bent. If you could open me up to look inside my soul, you would expect to see dark clouds of doom forming of anger, disappointment, hate, and frustration. But that is not what you would have seen. If you opened up my soul at that moment and you would have seen sunshine and happiness. How is that possible? As I was getting yelled at, I was thinking about my next fly fishing trip. I had a reason to be happy, and I healed quickly. Healing from hurt allows us to live better, be happier, and live a fulfilled life.
Today is the happiest day of my life, I got to sleep in late, the Mass was packed, and I had Easter dinner with Dad. That’s funny because yesterday was the happiest day of my life. And yet I know that tomorrow is going to be the happiest day of my life. That is not to say that I will not get banged up, bruised, or have my feelings hurt. In fact, every day I have a lot of reasons why I could be miserable. But because of this day. The resurrection of Jesus, because Jesus gave me eternal life, I will always have a reason to be happy. When you have a reason to be happy, you will heal quickly. So Happy Easter!Back to All Homilies