I love the original movie Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory. All the way through while I watch the film I still laugh and feel like a child. It is only the last line with which I have an issue. Wonka by now has chosen Charlie to succeed him as head of the chocolate factory. They board an elevator that proceeds to crash through the roof and begins to fly. Wonka then asks Charlie if he ever heard of what happened to the boy who got everything he ever wanted. After Charlie says no, Wonka explains, “He lived happily ever after.” As I get older, I can say I have met several people who got all or most of all they have ever wanted, but unlike Charlie, it did not lead to endless bliss. In fact, as a Christian I know that that statement of Wonka’s is a lie. The secret to living happily ever after lies in not getting all you ever wanted, but instead in giving all you ever wanted away.
A person can’t have any sense of that reality until they begin to see his or her life transformed by Jesus. When we have accepted the challenge placed before us and made a choice to live a certain way daily, we can find ourselves transformed. Following Jesus is not easy, but it is the only true way to find authentic joy. When we have emptied ourselves and allowed him to fill the open spaces in us, we become different. We are transformed and, if enough of us in a parish community experience the same journey, our parish is transformed as well. Then we begin to transform the world around us. Don’t be fooled: A flying elevator is cool, but it pales in comparison to what can happen when we find a new life in Jesus Christ.
– Tracy Earl Welliver