Before George Harrison died...

Author: Fr. Bill Murtaugh
June 26, 2018

Before George Harrison died in 2001, he was interviewed and talked about his life, including his experience with the Beatles. He said that when they first started out, “it was all about the fame.” And of course, the Beatles had more fame than they ever dreamed of having. However, the excitement of fame finally wore off. After that, George said, “it was all about the money.” And they made a lot of money. But in the end fame and money did not satisfy George Harrison. “at this point in my life,” George said, “it’s all about finding God.”

What an interesting comment. First, it was all about fame. Then it was all about money. Then it was all about God. At the time of the interview, George had been living with cancer for several years. When mortality became real for him, the spiritual life became even more crucial. I don’t know if George Harrison was a Christian believer, but after fame and fortune disappointed, as it always will, finding God was crucial in his quest to live a substantial and contented life.

Both scientific research and Sacred Scripture tell us that people of faith are happier and more content than people without religious faith. Here is the finding of an expert in the field of positive psychology, Sonia Lyubomirsky, from her book The How of Happiness:

    “Religious people, compared to nonreligious people, are healthier, live longer, have stronger social support, cope better with trauma, see more purpose in life, have stronger self-esteem, experience more joy and awe, and feel more satisfied and hopeful…and scientists can no longer ignore the powerful influence of spirituality and religion on health and well-being.”

Obviously the Bible would agree with Lyubomirsky’s conclusions. One short example came from the New Testament book of Philippians, written by St. Paul during a prison stay. In spite of his difficult circumstances, Paul writes: “I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation.” (Philippians 4: 11-12). In spite of being in jail, Paul experienced well-being—not a shallow or superficial kind of happiness but a deep sense of inner satisfaction, peace, and contentment. How is it possible to be content locked up in a prison cell? The short answer is faith. Paul’s faith in God and Jesus Christ gave him the ability to experience life satisfaction and contentment even in trying situations.

I need to add that I’m not talking about some kind of simplistic, happy-go-lucky faith that always smiles and says everything is wonderful if you love Jesus. Faith is not so simple. Why? Because I’ve presided at too many difficult funerals, including infants, children, teens, and young parents. I’ve seen too many broken dreams. I’ve prayed with too many cancer patients. I’ve listened to the pain of those with mental illness. I’ve heard the struggles of many people fighting addictions and looking for sobriety as they made their Fifth Step. I’ve seen too much abuse and violence in our world. My faith today has a lot of ambiguity and unknowns. It has a lot of mystery. Faith is not always black-and-white and simple and easy. Sometimes faith is difficult. I often pray, “Lord, I believe; help my unbelief.” (Mark 9: 24)

Most honest Christians will admit having such feelings, at least some times. I certainly do. I don’t pretend to have all the answers about God and faith. In spite of doubts and unanswered questions, I continue to believe in God, that God loves me, that I belong to God, and that faith makes all the difference in the world.

I hope and pray that you will continue the journey of faith with the Christian Community of Pax Christi.



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