An Easter parable
Easter Sunday (LEasterB), April 12, 2009
By Fr. James Gilhooley
Listen to an Easter parable. The father was in a foul mood. He wanted to attend the Easter Liturgy with his wife and three children. Sunday worship with his family was special for him. He believed in the dictum that teaches that the family that worships together stays together. But he was the new manager of a fast-food restaurant. The owner, anticipating a large crowd, ordered him to work Easter Sunday.
He had no choice. Furthermore, he needed the manager's job badly. His children required a lot of food and clothing. He swallowed his disappointment.
However, the manager had to concede his employer wascorrect. The people looking for Easter Sunday breakfast were double the usual number. Before noon he found himself tired. From the crowds coming in the front door, he saw no relief. If anything, he could use a few more counter-clerks. He felt guilty getting bad-tempered with several customers. They had grown impatient at the long wait. He sensed too that his anger arose from his envy that they were free and he was not. Some of them had their children clutching their precious Easter bunnies.
The young man, who was next in line, was wearing a gold cross around his neck. He politely said to the manager, "Two orders of scrambled eggs please with a double order of bacon and sausage, whole wheat toast, two fresh orange juices, two large coffees." Then he said, "Please put each breakfast on a separate tray, but give me the check for both."
The manager assembled the breakfast order for the pleasant man. He presented the trays to him and said, "$15.53." The manager was giving the man his change for $20. At that point, the fellow, dressed in workingman's clothes, said, "Please give the change and the second tray to the man behind me." Then he disappeared into the large crowd. It was the last he saw of him.
The manager saw the man behind his last customer. He was dressed in old clothing, needed a shave, and was carrying what appeared to be his belongings. They were spilling over from two shopping bags. He looked exhausted. He appeared as though he would be lucky to have the few coins needed for a senior coffee.
The manager gave the surprised man the second heaping tray and the change from the $20. He smiled at him. It was his first genuine smile that morning. He whispered his benefactor was the fellow who had just preceded him. The old man looked confused but delighted. His Easter Sunday had been made.
For this beggar, the Christ had indeed risen. The good news was very good. He would have a good breakfast. He was tempted to shout ALLELUIA. Wasn't this impulsive gesture of the workingman what the Easter Jesus is really all about?
The Christian truckdriver was "walking the talk." The manager recalled the line someone had recently spoken to him: "I can't save the world, but I can send a poor man a pizza." The resurrected Jesus had come to that fast-food shop in the person of the young truck driver. He was driving an eighteen wheeler. He too was away from his family on Easter.
The manager realized the driver had touched not only the hungry old man down on his luck but also himself. He had transformed his shop into a cathedral. The work day passed quickly after that. He mused on the aphorism that while it is not easy to become an Easter Christian, it sure is easy to start. When he got home tired that night, his three year old embraced him and shouted, "Daddy, daddy, we saw the Easter Jesus in church." As he picked up the child, he kissed her warmly. Then he whispered to her with a large smile, "I saw Him too, Dora."
As he got down on his knees for his night prayers, he thanked the risen Jesus for sending both men into his shop that Easter Sunday. For a fleeting moment, he wondered whether the poor man had been the resurrected Jesus Himself. But he dismissed that notion as much too grandiose.
But was it? After all, is there not a story that the thirteenth century Francis of Assisi once had been asked for a coin by a beggar? Francis was coming from Easter services. He embraced the beggar warmly, called him "my brother," and gave him several coins. As Francis left the poor man, he turned back to wave. He saw Jesus Himself standing where the beggar had stood. He waved at Francis with a smile. There was a huge bleeding wound in His hand.