Off and on, people would say phrases to me like, "I'm not trying to be pollyanna-ish." I never understood what that term, 'Pollyanna', meant until this week when I watched the 1960 Disney movie called "Pollyanna". It's a story of 11-years old Pollyanna who is orphaned after her parents die and she goes to live with her wealthy aunt. Pollyanna learned a great philosophy of life called the "glad game" from her dad who was a missionary. The object of the game is to look for something to be glad about in every situation. The worse the situation the harder and more fun the game is. Pollyanna tried to describe the game this way: on one occasion while living in the mission field, she had been wanting a doll. When a large package finally arrived, she didn't find a doll, but crutches instead. She wept, but her dad taught her to be glad that she didn't have to use the cruthches.
In today's First Reading, we heard from someone who found something to be glad about in his personal failures and tragedies. We know Peter was burdened with heavy guilt for denying his friend and Lord three times before Good Friday. Yet Peter found something to be glad about as he preached to the people, "Jesus the Nazarene was a man commended to you by God with mighty deeds, wonders, and signs...This man...you killed, using lawless men to crucify him. But God raised him up,..I saw the Lord ever before me, with him at my right hand I shall not be disturbed. Therefore my heart has been glad and my tongue has exulted; my flesh, too, will dwell in hope...You have made known to me the paths of life; you will fill me with joy in your presence."
People use the term 'pollyanna-ish' to mean unreasonable or blind optimism. Yet, the Risen Jesus that two disciples saw at the breaking of the bread, the Jesus whom Peter saw, and the Jesus all of us have encountered in a real way are not unreasonable or blind optimism. For us, "God raised this Jesus; of this we are all witnesses."