Good News and Better

Wise and waggish advice from James Martin, S.J., to 2015 graduates. Among the lessons: “The good news is there is a Messiah. The better news is it’s not you.”

A few funny, inspiring, and insightful life lessons for the 2015 graduating class came from the commencement address by James Martin, S.J. “You are beloved children of God,” he said. “Today, on top of that, you’re something really special—Santa Clara graduates. Thank you for this honor and, in the words of Jesus Christ, ‘Go Broncos!’”

Excerpts from Fr. Martin’s “Lessons for Life” that he shared with graduates:

Here’s lesson No. 1: Really three things that go together. They will save you a lot of heartache in your life. Are you ready? You’re not God, this isn’t heaven, and don’t be an ass. I cleaned that last one up a little bit.

So you’re not God. Stop trying to do everything, to fix everything in your life and in everybody’s life and make everything perfect. You can’t. Why? Because you’re not God. So stop acting as if you were God.

A Jesuit friend of mine recently told me a true story about Pope Francis. My friend was scheduled to meet with the pope with a few other Jesuits and four Catholic sisters. When the pope entered the room, all the sisters fell to their knees, and the pope said, “What are you doing? I’m not Jesus.”

As the saying goes, there’s good news and there’s better news. Do you know this one? The good news is there is a Messiah. The better news is it’s not you.

The second part of No. 1: This isn’t heaven. Try not to expect life to be perfect all the time. Once you realize that, you’ll be able to enjoy life more, and you’ll find yourself more grateful.

Finally, don’t be an ass. Boy, I wish I had learned that one years ago. Look, you’re sick. Your boyfriend or your girlfriend just dumped you. You just had a fight with your parents. Your car broke down. Fine. You could be sad and disappointed and angry, and you can share your struggles with your friends, but you don’t have to pass on your anger. Just because you’re upset doesn’t mean that you have to act like a jerk.

Once I told a friend of mine with mock seriousness, “Oh, my life is such a cross,” and he said, “Oh, yeah? For you or for other people?”

Read the full list here. 

post-image Fr. Jim frequently guested on The Colbert Report in its day and is editor-at-large for America Magazine. / Photo by Chris Crisman
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