In honor of April Fool’s Day, which was on Easter Sunday this year, I thought it would be fun to play a simple April Fool’s game. Maybe I can fool you with a quote. I’m going to give you the quote and then see if you can guess the name of the person who made the statement that I quoted.
But before you guess the name, I want to know if you agree or disagree with the statement, and if you are comfortable or uncomfortable with the statement.
After you consider how you feel about the statement, you can guess who made the statement from the following eight people: Donald Trump, Hillary Clinton, Bill Clinton, Oprah, Joan Rivers, Johnny Carson, Mark Zuckerberg, or Lee Iacocca. Here’s the quote:
I’ve yet to meet the person who got to the top with generosity. You have to be very strong and push your way through, or people will shove you under. We may be out of the jungle, but we’re still fighting over one banana.
Now, don’t cheat. Before I tell you where the quote came from, I want you to think about how you feel about the statement. Do you agree or disagree with it? Are you comfortable or uncomfortable with it?
Who do you think made the statement? It was made by the late Joan Rivers, the female comedian who had a reputation for being an ambitious, relentless, hardworking entertainer who rose to the top during the 1960s and 1970s, while competing with some of the most well-known male comedian’s in the country.
Despite her statement about generosity and what it took to rise to the top, Joan was a very generous person who supported many good causes and frequently went out of her way to help other people who were in need.
In reality, her statement really had nothing to do with a person’s individual generosity. It had to do with competing in the business world where she learned at a young age that she always had to watch her back and anticipate the next move of her competitors.
While Joan’s statement referred to what it took to succeed in the business world, I would like to rewrite the statement to make it applicable to the religious world. Here’s my version of the statement as it applies to what it takes to succeed as a devout Catholic:
I’ve yet to meet a devout Catholic who succeeded in bringing people closer to God with only generosity. You have to be very strong and push your way through, or people will shove you under. We may be out of the jungle, but there is still a war being waged between good and evil.
The most generous man who ever lived was Jesus Christ, but despite His generosity, he was berated, tortured, and crucified on a cross.
The Blessed Trinity — the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit — is infinitely generous, but there is a limit to how that generosity is applied. God’s generosity flows to those of us who sacrifice and live our lives in accordance with the laws of His Church — the One, Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic Church.
As a nation, we are constantly being lectured by the media, corporate business groups, educational institutions, religious leaders, and leaders of other countries, all of whom insist that we have an obligation to extend our generosity to anyone and everyone who wants to take advantage of us by coming into our country illegally. We are told that we are selfish if we refuse entry.
This is not how God operates and it is not how he created us to operate. Just because we are generous, doesn’t mean that we have to be pushed around and defeated. The same applies to us as individuals. We do not have to succumb to guilt about how we are not being generous with people who are doing everything in their power to strip all vestiges of Christianity from our laws, businesses, and institutions. We do not have to generously cooperate with them so they can justify and flaunt their evil behavior.
One of the great Catholics who comes to mind who was a perfect example of what I’m talking about was Mother Angelica (1923 – 2016), the founder of Eternal World Television Network (EWTN).
While she was an extremely generous person, it wasn’t her generosity that built EWTN into a Catholic media empire. It was her love of God and her dedication, tenacity, and strength that helped her push her way through to the top. Along the way, there were numerous people, most notably so-called Catholic leaders, who wanted to shove her under.
If you ever have a chance to read Mother Angelica’s life story, I would recommend it. She fought to the end to teach and influence as many Catholics as possible to know, love, and serve God, and to embrace the One, Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic Church. Her legacy lives on through her television network, which is viewed in more than 240 million homes in over 140 countries around the world.
It takes much more than generosity to be a devout Catholic and to lead others to the Kingdom of God.