“Do you have any idea who I am?"
The Los Angeles Times published the story of a commercial airline flight cancellation which resulted in a long line of travelers trying to get bookings on another flight. One man in the line grew increasingly impatient with the slow-moving line. At last, he pushed his way to the front and angrily demanded a first-class ticket on the next available flight. "I’m sorry," said the ticket agent, “First I’ll have to take care of the people who were ahead of you in the line." The irate man then pounded his fist on the ticket counter, saying, "Do you have any idea who I am?" Whereupon, the ticket agent picked up the public address microphone and said, "Attention, please! There is a gentleman at the ticket counter who does not know who he is. If there is anyone in the airport who can identify him, please come to the counter." Hearing this, the man retreated, and the people waiting in line burst into applause. We are like this man. We have forgotten how to wait patiently. In today’s gospel, Jesus invites us to learn his meekness and humility. (Tony Kadavil)
”Veni, vidi, dormivi”:
National Public Radio had a story about a club that has been formed at a high school in Greenwich, Connecticut. The club is called the Power Nap Club! A group of students go to a room at the end of the school day where they turn off the lights, put their heads on their desks, plug in a tape of quiet classical music, and take what they call a “power nap” for about a half hour. “Their club tee-shirts are decorated with a cardinal (the school mascot), wearing a little nightcap on his head. Inscribed on the tee-shirt is a new version of an old Latin motto, ‘Veni, vidi, dormivi: I came, I saw, I slept!’ The club was formed not because these are lazy high school students, but exactly the reverse. These kids are going to school all day, participating in sports, volunteering in the community, going to church or mosque or synagogue, and holding down part-time jobs. They’re exhausted. And they’ve learned that just a little nap makes all the difference in the world” (Carlton Young). In today’s gospel, Jesus says to us and to them, “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.” (Tony Kadavil)
My Mother taught me Humility and Real Responsibility:
Indra Nooyi from Chennai, India is the fifth CEO in PepsiCo's 47-year history. She recounted the day 17 years ago when she was told that she would be made president of PepsiCo and be named to the board of directors.
She said she was "overwhelmed" but her mother's reaction was, she said, "let the news wait. Can you go out and get some milk."
Ms Nooyi recalled her mother telling her when she reacted to , "let me explain something to you. You might be president of PepsiCo. You might be on the board of directors. But when you enter this house, you're the wife, you're the daughter, you're the daughter-in-law, you're the mother. You're all of that. Nobody else can take that place. So leave that damned crown in the garage. And don't bring it into the house."
"You know I've never seen that crown," the corporate honcho said.
Gospel text: Matthew 11:25-30
Today’s passage is best understood as a wonderful summary of the “Little Way” of St Thérèse of Lisieux. For those who are acquainted with the spiritual teaching of the Saint, it is an opportunity to celebrate her and all she has meant to the Church and to the world of our time. Like all bible passages, this one teaches by way of story. It records a moment of intense emotion in the life of Jesus, when he “exclaims” i.e. utters a heartfelt prayer of thanksgiving.
The experience was particular to Jesus but as always with lectio divina we are invited to enter into it, recognizing with gratitude that we and great people who have touched our lives have lived similar moments. They have been “wisdom moments”, i.e. taught us some important lessons about human living.
Jesus reflects on three aspects of his life:
a) verses 25 and 26: the learned and the clever did not understand him but “mere children” did;
b) verse 27: his relationship with his heavenly father;
c) verses 28 to 30: his ministry to those who are overburdened by the religion of his time.
We read the passage as one continuous flow, interpreting each section in the light of the other two.
Verses 25 and 26. The Jewish community which Jesus ministered to was divided into two categories: (a) those who knew and practiced the law and (b) those who did neither. Jesus experiences that those barriers are of no consequence – the experts in the law didn’t understand him whereas the others did – and this moves him very deeply. Note the adjective “mere” – they were considered of no consequence.
Jesus’ overall response is positive; he is not concerned with those who don’t understand, his entire focus is on the wisdom of the little ones. He is like Mary in the Magnificat celebrating the “lowly lifted up” rather than rejoicing at “the mighty cast down”.
We too have had moments when we became aware of the greatness of those we had previously looked down upon:
– men and women who never darken the doors of a church turned out to be “holy” people;
– those with little formal education shared insights which we had never thought of;
– the children of dysfunctional families became wonderful parents.
We remember our feelings then – how wrong we had been! what good news that we had been wrong! The “mere children” need not be people. We can interpret them of aspects of ourselves that we tend to disown – our weak points, failures, jealousies, feelings of insecurity. One day we realize that in order to see reality more clearly we must see the world with the eyes of a child and renounce our need/desire to find security in power or status – being “learned and clever”.
We celebrate moments when perhaps for the first time we appreciated:
– the beauty of nature
– the greatness of others
– the potential in a community.
The passage is a lived experience of Jesus’ teaching that unless we are converted and become like little children we will never enter the kingdom of heaven.
In verse 27 Jesus remembers that he himself was a “mere child” in the presence of his heavenly Father. The passage is recognized to be difficult. Many scholars read it as a testimony to Jesus’ unique relationship with God the Father – in parallel with similar testimonies in St John’s Gospel. It therefore becomes a “proof text” that he was truly God. But the “law” of lectio divina that I mentioned above must apply to this verse in particular – the only way to understand a bible passage is from personal experience.
Lectio reminds us that by the incarnation Jesus does not merely reveal God, he reveals us to ourselves. He invites us to share his unique experience, even though on a lower level.
Furthermore we approach the passage “from below” remembering our deep human relationships, e.g. with a spouse, a colleague, a “soul friend”; the relationship then becomes a “parable” of our relationship with God.
The passage looks at two aspects of Jesus’ relationship with the Father,
– trust, in verse 27a,
– “knowing” in verse 27b.
Verse 27a tells us that for Jesus (and for us) “everything” in the relationship is a gift, temporarily “entrusted to us” by a loving Father. This is how “mere children” relate with adults.
“Know” in 27b has the biblical meaning of “have a very intimate relationship” (in the bible “know” often means “have sexual intercourse with”).
“No one knows except … ” is also a biblical way of speaking. It indicates the intensity of the relationship, “I know you in way that no one in the world does”. It is like the passages which speak of Israel as Good’s “only” or “first- begotten” son which mean, “my love for you is very special”. Parents will understand this; they know about loving each of their children as an “only child”.
Verse 27c adds that Jesus has shared with others his intimacy with the Father. The verse is saying two things:
– his ministry (like ours) consists in initiating people into intimacy with God;
– he “chooses”, in the sense that he puts the stamp of his freedom on the relationship he establishes: “life (the Lord) sent you on my path, and I have turned what was a chance meeting into a personal choice.”
Verses 28 to 30 draw the conclusion from the first two sections: because Jesus has experienced life as a gift, his followers are truly free. In the time of Jesus (as in our time) religion had become a matter of keeping commandments; people experienced it as “labour”; they felt “overburdened” by it. Jesus changed that; he made religion an experience of freedom. He challenged his followers to reach beyond their narrow concerns, but they experienced this “yoke” as “easy” and this “burden” as “light”. We celebrate people who did that for us.
We interpret “gentle and humble of heart” in the light of the two previous sections. It means being able to accept weakness (being mere children) in the presence of God. Our interpretation will be based on personal experience – we think of people who made life’s challenges easy to bear and recognize how they were gentle and humble of heart.
We can interpret the passage as a celebration of the teaching method of the great Brazilian educator, Paulo Freire, as taught in his famous work Pedagogy of the Oppressed. We can identify the three stages of the passage, starting with the third:
– teaching must not be a “burdensome” transferring of facts (the “banking method” of education) but an initiation to freedom;
– for true teachers knowledge is a sacred trust they grow into, side by side with their students;
– the sign of a good teaching method is that the lowly understand things hidden from the learned and the clever (including the teacher).
Heavenly Father, Lord of heaven and earth,
we thank you that you have hidden things from the learned and the clever
and revealed them to mere children;
yes, Father, that is what it has pleased you to do.
Lord, we always tend to form groups where we feel superior to others and listen only to one another,
– as a Church and as groups within the Church;
– within ethnic groups and social classes;
– within our families and communities.
We thank you for those precious moments when you break down the barriers we have set up,
surprising us by hiding things from us and revealing them to those we considered mere children:
– someone we thought a sinner taught us true loyalty or love;
– a child we looked on as inferior said a word that brought peace to our family;
– young people accomplished something we adults had not been able to do;
– a group we had written off as unemployable organized themselves into a co-op.
At that moment you were calling us to poverty of spirit
whereby we recognize you as Lord of heaven and earth.
Lord, we pray that our Church may be a presence of Jesus in our country:
– always on the lookout for those who are looked down upon as mere children;
– grateful when you reveal things to them that have been hidden from the learned and the clever;
– and proclaiming your love to the world.
Lord, we thank you for moments of intimacy and sharing,
when friends opened themselves to us in trust,
letting us know them as no one knew them,
and we felt known as we had never been known,
and there was no worry about our trust being betrayed.
These were truly sacred moments when we experienced your love and your trust.
We pray today for families,
that they may be living experiences of your Holy Trinity,
with trust between parents and children,
parents letting themselves be known by their children
and children letting themselves be known by their parents,
and children free to invite whoever they like into that place of trust.
Lord, there are people in our society who are overburdened:
– society makes them feel responsible for the country;
– their sins appear more shameful than the sins of more respectable people;
– they are caught in a trap of poverty and lack the energy to get out.
We pray that as a Church we may not add to their burdens.
Help us on the contrary to come to them like Jesus,
– with respect and trust and in a spirit of dialogue;
– with humility and gentleness of heart,
so that they may feel themselves understood and so find rest for their souls.
Lord, we pray today for those who feel called to undertake some burden:
– to accept death or illness;
– to forgive an enemy;
– to let a loved one go;
– to involve themselves in a struggle for justice.
Help them to trust you,
that you know how they labour and are overburdened,
that you are gentle and humble of heart,
and they will find the yoke easy and the burden light.
Heavenly Father, we thank you for moments of deep prayer
when we experience that everything is your gift entrusted to us.
Others misunderstand us, but we feel you understand,
and we say no one knows us except you;
we feel so close to you, we can say no one knows you except us;
so close to those we minister to,
we can say those whom we have chosen to reveal you to also know you.
Lord, religion often becomes a matter of keeping commandments, a heavy burden to bear.
We thank you for sending us teachers like Jesus,
so gentle and humble in heart that we find rest for our souls;
they lay a yoke on us but it is easy,
they ask us to bear a burden but it is light.
Lord, we thank you for the gift of St Thérèse of Lisieux.
Truly you revealed things to this mere child
which you hid from the learned and the clever among her contemporaries,
yes Father that is what it pleased you to do;
– she knew that whatever she had was entrusted to her by you,
– she felt herself known by you in a way that no one else knew her,
– she knew you as no one else knew you, and those to whom she taught her Little Way,
– she called to her all who felt religion as a labour and a burden and she gave them rest;
– we have learnt humility and gentleness of heart from her and we found rest for our souls;
– we found her yoke easy and her burden light.
Introduction to the Celebration
Every Sunday we gather here because we have heard the Lord’s invitation: ‘Come to me, all you who labour and are overburdened, and I will give you rest.’ We rejoice that God in his generosity has given us this day of rest, this day of rejoicing, this day when we can just be happy and reflect on the wonder of the creation.
1. The challenge with a text such as today’s gospel is to find something particular that can give expression to the aspect of the kergyma which it represents. I am picking up the notion of the rest that God gives us, and particularising it in terms of the notion of Sunday as the divine gift of a day of rest.
2. This is, of course, an ancient theme. And, deviant notions of Sabbatarianism apart, there has been a standard way to present both the Sabbath (in Jewish sources) and Sunday (among Christians) down the ages. These presentations have a common theme: ‘This is the day.’ Whether it is the day of creating or resting from creating, or the day of resurrection or some other day. Then this actual day, Sunday now, is a means of participating in that original’ day’. This notion that time forms mystical unity with the fundamental moments in the history of salvation is deeply embedded in both Jewish and Christian notions of ritual and celebration. However, possibly Christmas and Easter apart, they seem not to excite people today in the way they did until quite recently. Whatever has caused this change is one matter, the fact is that in a ‘leisure society’ the notion of a Day of Rest, or a Day belonging to the Lord, just does not move people – even if they are Christians. This can be seen in that many people are willing to opt for alternative ‘worship services’ that would take place on weekday evenings because they do not want to have ‘to go on Sunday’ as it ‘messes up their weekend’. The time of leisure, the weekend, is so sacrosanct that it cannot even be interrupted for prayer. Older books spoke of the dichotomy of people who gave ‘Sunday to God; the rest to mammon’; now it is more complex. Monday to Friday is for work and duties; weekends are pure leisure time; God does not belong to my leisure time, so he can be squeezed in during the week.
3. So how do you speak about Sunday and’ a day of rest’ to people when many of those listening will be viewing their presence there as an interruption in their leisure time? Indeed, there will be individuals in every assembly who will be suffering from stress because of the tension that her /his decision to go the Eucharist has caused their families who see it as an unwarranted interruption the family’s leisure. Today, in every society where there is a five-day week and work is limited by a maximum number of hours, Sunday is a problem for Christians!
4. The first step is to acknowledge the problem. Ask rhetorically how many know this dialogue: the family want to go somewhere on Sunday and to leave to get there for lunchtime. Only one parent is a church-goer. That person’s desire to attend the Eucharist is throwing the plans out. So someone asks: ‘Why can’t you just skip church this week – you can worship God anywhere – you don’t need to go into a special building!’ Reply: ‘It’s not as simple as that!’ Another voice: ‘Well, OK, but can you not make an exception for today, it’s such a nice day!’ Reply: ‘But I made an exception last week and this week I’m down on the list to do the reading!’ Another: ‘Oh Yes! Someone else’s list.
Strange religion this: someone else is more important than your family’s happiness. Strange religion this! Loving God means you don’t love your family.’ Another voice: ‘You better go on to your Mass. We’re too late to get there now anyway. You might as well go off and look after your religion!’
5. This acknowledgment of the stress that many are under can be a way of ventilating a problem that people have never named and itself lessens the stress and the consequent feelings of guilt.
6. So the first step in preaching Sunday is to say to people that resting is having burdens removed: so, just for now, relax. God loves us and knows the strains and stresses we live with.
7. Then, step two, just point out the irony: in a ‘leisure society’ the pressures to use ‘leisure time’ often become so great, that the time is as stressed as for work-time. We have industrialised leisure time! How much leisure is left? Yet God wants us to have leisure and rest from work.
8. Life is greater than our pressures and concerns and work: that is the insight of the Day of rest being the Lord’s Day. Our life is greater than the sum of its parts. Yet, if we do not reflect regularly on this, and be’ thankful to God for all his gifts – of which life is basic – we lose the plot and lose the leisure. That is why we Christians call on ourselves to stop regularly, relax and reflect on life and work and leisure, and to bless the Father for his goodness. And our word for ‘blessing the Father’ is Eucharist.
FROM THE CONNECTIONS:
Rarely outside of John’s Gospel is Jesus’ intimacy with the Father so clearly portrayed as in today’s Gospel from Matthew. Jesus offers a hymn of praise to his Father, the holy Creator of all who deeply loves his creation as a father loves his children. The great love of God for all of humanity is revealed in the love of his Son, the Messiah.
Religion as a “yoke” was exactly how Jesus' Jewish listeners saw the Law. They saw their faith as a burden, a submission to a set of endless rules and regulations dictating every dimension of their lives. But Jesus describes his “yoke” as “easy.” The Greek word used here that we translate as “easy” more accurately means “fitting well.” In Palestine, ox yokes were custom-made of wood, cut and measured to fit a particular animal. Jesus is proposing here a radical change in attitude regarding faith: Our relationship with God is not based on how meticulously we keep a certain set of rules and regulations (a direct challenge to the long-held view of the scribes and Pharisees) but in the depth of our love of God, reflected in our love of others. Our relationship with God is not based on subjugation and weariness but on hope and joy.
There is also an important political dimension to these verses. Matthew’s Gospel was written a short time after the destruction of Jerusalem in the year 70 A.D. by the soldier-emperor Vespasian. For both the Jewish and the new Christian communities, it was a time of painful introspection: Would Israel’s hope for the political restoration of the Jewish state ever be realized? While orthodox Jews maintained unwavering fidelity to their people, language and sense of nationalism, the Christian “cult” saw their ultimate destiny not in the political restoration of Israel but in the coming of the reign of God – a reign that embraces not just Jews but all men and women, even Israel's most despised enemies. Jewish suspicion of the Christian community was growing as the new group became more and more disaffected by the Jewish political agenda. Jesus’ words on gentleness and humility set off sparks between loyal Jews and Christians who were abandoning the cause.
To love one another as God has loved us, to serve one another as Christ the Savior serves God’s people, is a “yoke” that is “easy” (“fitting well”) in calling us to love as we are, using whatever gifts God has given us to give voice to our faith; a yoke that is “light” in its sense of joy and the fulfillment and meaning it gives our lives.
Today’s Gospel calls us to embrace Jesus’ spirit of humility: recognizing that before God we are all debtors, that we have done nothing to deserve the life we have been given, that we are owed nothing from God or life. Humility is to realize how blessed we have been by God through no merit of our own, and to respond to such goodness with a constant sense of gratefulness, realizing that every breath we take is a gift from a Creator whose love knows neither limit nor condition.
Many years ago the priest sought to print several thousand copies of the books in order to make the texts of Japan’s religion available to everyone. He traveled the length and breadth of Japan to raise the money for the printing. Rich and poor alike donated to the project. The priest expressed equal gratitude to each donor, whether their gift amounted to hundreds of pieces of gold or a few pennies.
After ten long years, Tetsugen had enough money for the printing. But just as the making of the holy books was about to begin, the river Uji overflowed its banks, leaving thousands of people without food and shelter. The priest halted the project immediately and used all of the money he worked so hard to raise to help the hungry and homeless.
Then Tetsugen began the work of raising the funds all over again. It took another ten years of travel and begging before he collected the money he needed to publish the holy book. But an epidemic spread across the country. Again the priest gave away all he had collected to care the sick, the suffering and dying.
A third time Tetsugen set out on his travels and, twenty years later, his dream of having the holy books printed in Japanese was finally realized.
The printing blocks that produced the first edition are on display at the Obaku Monastery in Kyoto. The Japanese tell their children that Tetsugen actually published three editions of the holy book – the first two are invisible but far superior to the third.
Jesus invites us to embrace the joyful sense of fulfillment that can only be realized by “learning” from his example of humility and gratitude, to take on his ‘yoke’ of humble, joyful service to one another as we journey together to the dwelling place of God. Like Tetsugen, we proclaim the Gospel most effectively and meaningfully not in words but in the generosity and compassion we extend to others. In our work for justice, in our dedication to reconciliation, in our welcome to all approach our tables, we make the word of God of a living reality in our own time and place.
FROM FR. JUDE BOTELHO:
In today’s first reading Zachariah the last of the minor prophets, describes the coming of the Messiah and his nature as a triumphant and victorious king and yet humble and lowly in nature. In order to belong to the Messiah promised and sent for us we have to fulfill a very important condition: We have to imbibe the spirit of the Messiah without which we cannot belong to him. He gives up all authority and power, he does not control, He walks the way of justice and peace for all. Have we the Spirit of Jesus dwelling in us? Do we live life according to the Spirit of Jesus?
What goes around comes around
When I was working as a disc jockey in Columbus Ohio, I used to go to the University Hospital or Grant Hospital on my way home. I would walk down the different corridors and just enter different people’s rooms and read scripture to them or talk to them. It was a way of forgetting my own problems and being thankful to God for my health. I was very controversial on radio. I had offended someone in an editorial that I had done and the person I exposed literally took a contract out on me. One night I was coming home at about two o’clock in the morning. I had just finished working at the night club where I was emcee. As I began to open my door, a man came out from behind the side of my house and said, “Are you Les Brown?” I said, “Yes, sir.” he said. “I need to talk to you. I was sent here to carry a contract on you.” “Me? Why?” I asked. He said, “Well, there’s a promoter that’s very upset about the money you cost him when you said that the group that was coming to town was not the real group.” “Are you going to do something to me?” I asked. He said, “No.” I was glad. He continued, “My mother was in Grant Hospital and she wrote about how you came in one day and talked to her and read Scripture to her. She was so impressed that this morning disc jockey, who didn’t know her, came in and did that. She wrote to me when I was in the Ohio penitentiary. I was impressed with that and I always wanted to meet you. When I heard the word out on the street that somebody wants to knock you off” he said, “I accepted the contract and then told them to leave you alone.”
Les Brown in ‘A 2nd Helping of Chicken Soup for the soul’
This Sunday’s gospel begins on a note of thanksgiving with Jesus acknowledging the Father for hiding things from the wise and the clever and revealing them to infants, to those who stand in humility before God. When the people returned from the Babylonian captivity, the Davidic dynasty no longer ruled in Jerusalem. In a shift it was thought that the ideal king would come in the indefinite future when the Davidic throne would be restored. This gave rise to the idea of the emergence of the Messianic king. Yet, since there was no visible dynasty to produce this figure, other Jewish expectations emerged. Some Jews expected salvation through an ideal priest or prophet like Moses or by God himself without human assistance. It was amidst these expectations that Jesus was born to poor parents in Jerusalem. Jesus himself did not openly claim to be the Messiah. He appeared to be the humble Messiah that Zechariah prophesied a few centuries before the birth of Jesus. Jesus chose the title ‘Son of Man’ while speaking of his life and mission. Jesus is the messiah who lived among suffering humanity, a friend of the out-castes of society, who sought table fellowship with sinners and tax collectors. It is in this context that his invitation to us in today’s gospel becomes intelligible. “Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me; for I am gentle and humble of heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.”
Centuries ago Jesus summoned his apostles and disciples and sent them two by two to communicate God’s love, to bind up wounds and to be peace-makers in a troubled world. Jesus knew they would make mistakes; nevertheless he involved them in his mission and gave them his authority. Today, all the baptized understand their call to Jesus’s mission and ministry to others. Whatever our position in society, we are invited to set out with full hearts to build our Church, and help it grow. Armed with faith and our personal experience of Jesus, we can all proclaim with our lives the reign of God. Through simple acts of caring, we have the ability to change the world. By providing a listening ear to the sick or lonely, or companionship to the young or elderly, we are ministers. When we are helpful, loyal and constant without seeking personal glory, we respond to the needs around us and build up the body of Christ. As we are called and respond, so do we also call others to do the same. Let us celebrate this gift and task with thanksgiving. We can make this world better with our lives, let us begin.
Where to look for God’s image?
You may have heard the ancient tale of God’s original problem: where to conceal his most precious possession, his own image. He called three wise counselors to listen to their suggestions. The first advised God to put his image on the top of the highest mountain on earth where it would be safe forever; God however declined the suggestion. The second wise man proposed that God put his image in the depth of the deepest sea; but God saw submarines in his mind’s eye and said no. The third suggested that God hide his image on the far side of the moon; but God smiled to himself and said even there man could reach it. Then God had his original idea: “I know where to conceal my image,” he said. “I will put it where people would never think of looking; I will put it into their hearts. There it will never be discovered.” And the three wise men nodded in agreement; they knew that God was right, indeed right.
Denis McBride in ‘Seasons of the Heart’
There was a queue of people outside the gates of heaven. Each person was asked the question: 'Why do you think you should be admitted?' The first person in the queue, a very religious man, said, 'I studied the Bible every day.' 'Very good,' said the Lord. 'However, we'll have to carry out an investigation to see why you studied the Bible. So please step aside for a moment!' The second was a very pious woman who said, 'Lord, I said my prayers every day without fail.' 'Very good,' the Lord answered. 'However, we'll have to see if your motives were pure, so step aside for a moment.' Then an innkeeper approached. He just said, 'Lord on earth I wasn't a very religious man, but my door was always open to the homeless, and I never refused food to anyone who was hungry.' 'Very good,' said the Lord. 'In your case no investigation is needed, go right in.' -It has been said that if you do a good deed, but have an ulterior motive, it would be better not to do it at all. The only exception is charity. Even though it isn't as good as doing it with a pure motive, it is still a good deed, and benefits the other person, no matter what your motive.
Flor McCarthy in 'New Sunday and Holy Day Liturgies'
Keeper of the flame
Sometime ago the Los Angeles Times carried a moving story by reporter Dave Smith. It was about a modern Christian who put God first in his life, other people second, and himself third. His name is Charlie DeLeo. After returning from Vietnam, he got a job as maintenance man at the Statue of Liberty. Charlie told the reporter that part of his job is to take care of the torch in the statue's hand and the crown on the statue's head. He has to make sure that the sodium vapour lights are always working and that the 200 glass windows in the torch and the crown are always clean. Pointing to the torch, Charlie said proudly, "That's my chapel. I dedicated it to the Lord, and I go up there and meditate on my breaks." But Charlie does other things for the Lord, as well. He received a commendation from the Red Cross after donating his 65th pint of blood. And since hearing of the work of Mother Teresa in India, he has given over $12,000 to her and to people like her. Charlie told the Los Angeles Times reporter: "I don't socialize much; don't have enough money to get married. I don't keep any of my money. After I got my job, I sponsored six orphans through those children's organizations." Charlie ended by telling the reporter that he calls himself the "Keeper of the Flame" of the Statue of Liberty. Later a park guide told the reporter: "Everybody knows Charlie is special. When he first gave himself that title, people smiled. But we all take it seriously now. To us, he's exactly what he says: 'Keeper of the Flame."
Mark Link in 'Sunday Homilies'
Pay nothing? You get nothing!
A man came to buy a saddle for his horse. He saw a fine piece and asked, "How much?" "Five hundred rupees", the shop owner replied. "But that is too much," the man replied. "As it is the saddle is overly decorated. Remove some of the decoration and cut down the price." "All right" the shop owner said and took away some of the decoration. "Now it will be Rs. 400." "Rs. 400? Even that is too much. There is still some decoration you can remove." And so it went on till the price was brought down to Rs. 250. Even so the customer found the price too much. At last the shop owner said, "All right, sir. The saddle will cost you nothing." The buyer asked excitedly, "Nothing? Wonderful! What do I get? The shop owner told him. "Nothing." - We get according to our willingness to pay. This holds good in the spiritual realm too.
G. Francis Xavier in 'Inspiring Stories'
From Fr. Tony Kadavil’s Collection:
Pope St. John XXIII during the Second Vatican Council days used to submit all his anxieties to God by this prayer every night: “Lord, Jesus, I’m going to bed. It's your Church. Take care of it!” The President Dwight David Eisenhower knew about that inner rest derived from submitting daily lives to God. He had it even while he was the leader of armed forces in World War II. His every decision during that awful conflict had monumental consequences. How did he deal with the pressure? Ike shared with his former pastor, Dean Miller that he didn't try to carry his burden alone. Some nights when the strain became too great, Eisenhower would simply pray, "Lord, with your grace I've done the best I can. You take over until morning." And he understood very well Jesus’ advice in today’s Gospel: “Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest” (Matthew 11: 28).
"No," her mother replied, "You can't have chocolate for breakfast. Do you want a bagel or cereal?"
Again the little girl said, "Chocolate."
Slightly exasperated, the mother said, "No, honey. You can't have my chocolate until after lunch. Now what do you want . . .a bagel or cereal?"
The little girl said with a grin, "Lunch!" (as told by Don Colbert, What Would Jesus Eat? , 145).
And then it happened... Robert Raines saw one of the most beautiful things he had ever witnessed in his life.
Right there at the very edge of that great mountain peak and facing the gorgeous valley below... was a young man in his early twenties with a trumpet pressed to his lips. And, do you know what he was playing? With his lungs expanded fully and releasing all of the energy in his soul, he was playing the Doxology on his trumpet!
Praise God from whom all blessings flow
Praise Him all creatures here below
Praise Him above ye heavenly host
Praise, Father, Son and Holy Ghost!
The point is clear: With all the stresses and problems in this life, still the truth is:
- We have so many doxologies to sing,
- So much to be grateful for,
- So many blessings to count.
The point is: Life is more than a grueling endurance test. Life is more than a survival game. Life is more than a coping competition.
So, you see... it's not enough to just escape the stress. It's not enough to just endure the stress. Thank God... there is another option...
James W. Moore, Collected Sermons, www.Sermons.com
Now Jesus comes along to say that wisdom and intelligence did not cut the mustard when it comes to knowing God. Not only is the yoke not to be resisted, we are to voluntarily take this yoke upon ourselves and surrender to one who is greater than us!
Second, reject anything that is producing an addiction in you.
Third, develop a habit of giving things away.
Fourth, refuse to be propagandized by the custodians of modern gadgetry.
Fifth, learn to enjoy things without owning them.
Sixth, develop a deeper appreciation for the creation.
Seventh, look at a healthy skepticism at all "buy now, pay later" schemes.
Eighth, obey Jesus' instructions about plain, honest speech.
Ninth, reject anything that will breed the oppression of others.
Tenth, shun whatever would distract you from you main goal: "Seek first the kingdom of God."
The king asked his royal subjects, "What is the sweetest melody of all?" Early the next morning they gathered all sorts of musicians. The sound awoke the king and all morning he listened to their tunes. But, after listening to all of them he could not tell which was the sweetest sound. Finally, one subject suggested they all play together. It was so noisy the king couldn't think.
About that moment a woman, dressed in her Sunday best, pushed to the front of the crowd and stepped forward. "O, king," she said, "I have the answer to your question." The king was surprised since she had no instrument. "Why didn't you come earlier?" he asked. She replied, "I had to wait until the setting of the sun." The musicians were still playing and the king told them all to stop.
The woman then took two candles and placed them on the king's balcony rail. She lit them just as the sun continued to set. The flames glowed in the evening darkness. She then lifted her voice and said, "Blessed art thou, O Lord, Our God, King of the universe, who sanctified us with the commandments and commanded us to kindle the Sabbath lights." She then said, "He who has an ear, let him hear."
Everyone was completely still. "What is that?" asked the king." He could not hear a sound. The woman then replied, "What you hear is the sound of rest, the sweetest melody of all."
Jesus said, "Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest." This is also the sweetest sound any of us can hear.