In October 1961, a Broadway musical premiered called “How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying.” Six years later came a film version of the show, followed in 1995 by a revival; another revival in 2011; and a short run in 2014 in Philadelphia. The story follows the fortunes of a certain J. Pierrepont Finch, a young window-cleaner in New York City, who reads the book of the same title, and is profoundly affected. This leads him to approach the World Wide Wicket Co. in search of a job. He is hired at once, and his career weaves in and out with improbable complications until our hero succeeds to the top position in the firm. Along the way, the audience enjoys the inbred humor and hears several apt tunes that enhance the plot.
It struck me as I thought about this classic show that in real life there certainly is a book that can have a profound effect on us that could be subtitled “How to Succeed in Life by Really Trying.” I refer to the Bible of course. For there in its pages is our spiritual story as a Christian people destined for eternal life. We know from personal experience that our lives often feature all sort of complications -some of them humorous no doubt- but all of them eventually yielding to our loving Father’s plan for us. He alone knows the best path for us to take to get to our true home in
heaven. Then we will enjoy the sweet success of completing our mission.
Whether we admit it or not, each of us is “wired” for success. Not the material kind that the world holds up as the goal of life. But the spiritual kind that Jesus Christ holds up as a treasure that will not fade or rust. Now this pull of the world is like a tug of war. Not as a fun game but as a powerful challenge to all that Jesus stands for in opposition. You might say that our wiring can get “frayed” under the pressure of this visible challenge. The so-called “Big Three”, namely “Wealth, Power and Fame,” are always in the ring ready for a fight against our good intentions. We get hoodwinked into the belief that this trio is far more important than the Trinity we call “Blessed.”
I believe that Jesus tempered the enthusiasm of His first missionaries, when they came back to Him from their missions, so excited to hand in their reports of success, to have them realize that there were even more important things in life than success. At least of the kind that is measurable by the world’s standards. What keeps our focus set on the right goal of our lives is our strong connection with Christ, a bond forged by prayer and the Sacraments of the Church. After all, He instituted them to help us stay connected. Of these seven, the Eucharist is prime because it is He Himself as our very food and drink. It has all the right “nutrients,” principally the “protein” we need to resist the infection all around us. The other six sacraments cover all the other times in our life’s journey. They help us stay on track to reach our ultimate goal: life forever lived free of pain and full of joy with the eternal vision of God.