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Reinhold Niebuhr, a famous American Protestant theologian in the 20th century, served as both a working pastor in Detroit and a respected professor at Yale University. He told the story of a flatland farm boy who, all his young life, dreamed of being a sailor on a tall-masted sailing ship. He slipped away from home, made his way to a port city, and enlisted as an apprentice sailor. The third day out to sea, the captain commanded that he assume the watch in the crow’s nest. The boy climbed halfway up the mast and then froze, going neither up nor down. He took an option that was not an option. He feared the ridicule of the seasoned sailors on the deck beneath him, so he would not go down. He feared the heights above him, so he would not go up. He froze between the options and took neither. He is the very illustration of the one-bag servant. The servant neither risked the money nor threw it away. He simply kept it and did nothing with it.
READ THE STORY ABOUT A CITY SLICKER WHO WAS VISITING RELATIVES ON A FARM AND THE FARMER GAVE A WHISTLE AND HIS DOG HERDED THE CATTLE INTO THE CORRAL, THEN LATCHED THE GATE WITH HER PAW. "WOW, THAT’S SOME DOG. WHAT’S HER NAME?" SAID THE CITY BOY. B. THE FORGETFUL FARMER THOUGHT A MINUTE, THEN ASKED, "WHAT DO YOU CALL THAT RED FLOWER THAT SMELLS GOOD AND HAS THORNS ON THE STEM?" "A ROSE?" "THAT’S IT" C. THE FARMER TURNED TO HIS WIFE AND SAID, "HEY ROSE, WHAT DO WE CALL THIS DOG?" D. THERE ARE TIMES WHEN WE HUMANS CAN BE VERY FORGETFUL, SO WHAT IS YOUR WORST FORGETFUL MOMENT? ONE DAY AFTER ALBERT EINSTEIN HAD MOVED TO HIS HOME AT THE INSTITUTE FOR ADVANCED STUDY IN PRINCETON, NEW JERSEY, THE TELEPHONE RANG IN THE OFFICE OF THE DEAN OF THE PRINCETON GRADUATE SCHOOL AND THE VOICE AT THE OTHER END INQUIRED: "MAY I SPEAK WITH DR. EINSTEIN, PLEASE?" G. ADVISED THAT HE WAS NOT IN, THE VOICE CONTINUED: "PERHAPS THEN YOU WILL TELL ME WHERE DR. EINSTEIN LIVES." H. THE SECRETARY REPLIED THAT SHE COULD NOT DO THIS, SINCE DR. EINSTEIN WISHED TO HAVE HIS PRIVACY RESPECTED. I. THE VOICE ON THE TELEPHONE DROPPED TO A WHISPER: "PLEASE DON’T TELL ANYONE, BUT I AM DR. EINSTEIN. I AM ON MY WAY HOME, AND HAVE FORGOTTEN WHERE MY HOUSE IS"
W Pat Cunningham
The other criterion is the common good, the good that is linked to living in society. It is the good of "all of us," individuals, families and intermediate groups forming society. It is a requirement of justice and society to take a stand for the common good and strive toward it. Each of us, according to our vocation and degree of influence we yield in the polis, is called to practice this–let’s call it "political charity." The Holy Father tells us, moreover, that when animated by charity, commitment to the common good has greater worth than a merely secular and political stand would have. Like all commitment to justice, it has a place within the testimony of divine charity that paves the way for eternity through temporal action. We cannot build the temporal city without respect to the eternal city.
STUBBORN JOY--Communion Meditation
"No man had more reason to be miserable than this one – yet no man was more joyful.
His first home was a palace. Servants were at his fingertips. The snap of his fingers changed the course of history. His name was known and loved. He had everything – wealth, power, respect. And then he had nothing.
Students of the event still ponder it. Historians stumble as they attempt to explain it. How could a king lose everything in one instant? One moment he was royalty; the next he was in poverty.
His bed became, at best, a borrowed pallet – and usually the hard earth. He never owned even the most basic mode of transportation and was dependent upon handouts for his income. He was sometimes so hungry he would eat raw grain or pick fruit off a tree. He knew what it was like to be rained on, to be cold. He knew what it meant to have no home.
His palace grounds had been spotless; now he was exposed to filth. He had never known disease, but was now surrounded by illness.
In his kingdom he had been revered; now he was ridiculed. His neighbors tried to lynch him. Some called him a lunatic. His family tried to confine him to their house.
Those who didn’t ridicule him tried to use him. They wanted favors. They wanted tricks. He was a novelty. They wanted to be seen with him – that is, until being with him was out of fashion. THEN they wanted to kill him.
He was accused of a crime he never committed. Witnesses were hired to lie. The jury was rigged. No lawyer was assigned to his defense. A Judge swayed by politics handed down the death penalty.
They killed him.
He left as he came – penniless. He was buried in a borrowed grave, his funeral financed by compassionate friends. Though he once had everything...
OWNERSHIP OF THE GIFT
A humanitarian group in Africa, noticing the filthy water, sewage, and disease, built clean water and sewage system for a village. Months later, they visited the village, but it was back to square one with filthy water, sewage and disease. [from Pickthebrain.com]
The chief told the humanitarian workers: "And what did you expect? These people had been many years without clean water. Then you gave it to them for free in abundance. They took all they could use and more. The people did not work for those water stations. They do not own them, and they could not be persuaded to maintain them."
The humanitarians were silent. The chief had spoken truth. The great gift alone had not been enough and the reasons could be clearly observed. Perhaps it is human nature to abuse a gift. The humanitarians returned to their camp and thought long and hard about how they could help the villagers.
The next day the humanitarians returned, determined to rebuild the water and sanitation systems with the following conditions.
1. The villagers would have to pay for water and sanitation. Not more than they could afford, but there would be no gift giving this time.
2. A group of villagers would work with the contractors to build the system and would be taught how to repair every aspect of it. These villagers would in turn train others so the system would never fall into disrepair.
With these new conditions in place, the water and sanitation systems were restored. This time the people had respect for the systems because they owned them. This time they were able to repair the system when it broke down. To this day the villagers have plenty of clean water and live free of filth and disease.
JEALOUS IN A RESTAURANT
There is an old story about an older couple having dinner in a restaurant. The wife sees another couple about their age sitting in a booth nearby. She sees the husband sitting close to his wife, with his arm around her. He is whispering things in her ear, and she is smiling and blushing. He’s gently rubbing her shoulder and touching her hair.
The woman turns to her husband and says, "Look at the couple over there. Look how close that man is to his wife, how he’s talking to her. Look at how sweet he is. Why don’t you ever do that?"
Her husband looks up from his Caesar salad and glances over at the next booth. Then he turns to his wife and says, "Honey, I don’t even know that woman."
Eggerichs, E. (2010). Love & respect. Nashville: Thomas Nelson.
Martyrdom Of Polycarp
Polycarp, venerable bishop of Smyrna was a personal friend and pupil of John the Apostle. When he was age 86, he was urged by the Roman proconsul to reproach Christ and be set free.
“Eighty and six years have I served Him and He never did me any injury. How then can I blaspheme my King and my Savior?”
The proconsul said: “I have respect for your age. Simply say, ‘Away with the Atheists’ and be set free.” Polycarp solemnly said, “Away with the Atheists”—pointing to the pagan crowd.”
He joyfully went to the stake, thanking God for counting him worthy to be numbered among the martyrs.
An elderly man was desperately ill. Knowing the time for his departure was near, he called for his closest friends to come see him one last time. Attending him were his doctor, his pastor and his business manager.
The old man said, “I know you can’t take it with you, but who knows for sure? What if the experts are mistaken? I want to account for all possibilities. So I’m giving you each an envelope containing $100,000. When I die, I want you each to slip the envelope in my jacket pocket at the funeral service. Then, if I do need money in the life to come, I’ll be ready. And I’m giving the envelopes to you because you are my most trusted friends.”
Shortly thereafter, the man did die. Each of his three friends was seen slipping something into the deceased’s coat pocket as he walked up to the casket to pay his final respects.
Following the service, while these friends were visiting with each other, the doctor, with a sheepish look on his face, said, “Guys, I have a confession to make. You know with the cost of medicine today, I don’t make that much money. The hospital is desperate for funds. We can’t even replace the CAT scan machine that’s broken down. So, I took $20,000 for the new CAT scan and put the rest in the coffin.”
The minister cleared his throat and looked down at his shoes. He said, “I, too, have a confession to make. As you know, our church is seriously overburdened by the needs of the homeless.
I couldn’t just ...
THE STORY IS TOLD OF A FATHER OF 5 WHO CAME HOME WITH A TOY, HE SUMMONED HIS CHILDREN AND ASKED WHICH ONE SHOULD BE GIVEN THE PRESENT. "WHO IS THE MOST OBEDIENT, NEVER TALKS BACK TO MOM AND DOES EVERY THING HE OR SHE IS TOLD TO DO?" HE INQUIRED. THERE WAS SILENCE, AND THEN A CHORUS OF VOICES: "YOU PLAY WITH IT DADDY!"
One of my all-time favorite scenes out of Hollywood. (They are few and far between for me...) It’s a scene from one of the Star Trek TV series. Worf, the Klingon, is captured by the evil Dominion. They intend to use him as a practice dummy in hand-to-hand combat for their lethal ground troops, and so they do. They bring out soldier after soldier to take Worf on and they go at it. It’s never very long before the bad guys get tired of getting beat up, and they "tap out" and quit. So, after Worf’s been taking on all comers for most of the day, they finally bring out their biggest and baddest, the one warrior they know will be able to win. They begin to battle, and Worf is just too weak from the day’s struggles. He is little more than a punching bag for the bad guy to work out on. But Worf will not "tap out" like all the other beaten soldiers. He keeps getting up, no matter how many times he is knocked down, no matter how injured he is. He simply will not quit. It is obvious that this valiant warrior has won the respect and admiration of all the Dominion troops, including the one now beating him up. They all begin to beg him to tap out and quit, but he will not. Finally, out of sheer exhasperation, the warrior who is beating him stops and "taps out" himself. When asked by his enraged commander why he has done this, he says, resigned, "I cannot defeat this man. I can only kill him."
Think about that for a moment. I cannot defeat this man. I can only kill him. I don’t know about you, but my goal is to hear the devil himself say those words about me some day. I will not tap out. How about you?