Monday, October 20, 2014

Work for the Lord!

 "For we are God's handiwork, His masterpiece, 
His workmanship, created anew in Jesus 
to do good works prepared for us in advance..." 
Ephesians 2:10
Last year, Pope Francis said something 
in one of his daily homilies that created a lot of controversy. 
Pope Francis usually says mass in St. Martha's House, 
where he lives, and he gives a homily like a regular priest, 
without a text to read from. 
From one of these homilies it was reported around the world 
that he said that atheist
could get to heaven by their good works.
Reading from the transcript, 
it is apparent that the Pope did not mean this. 
He said that we all, even atheists, have the duty to do good. 
And perhaps, because we were created by a good God 
we have that inner urge, that drive, that need to do good.
He said, “The root of this possibility of doing good – 
that we all have – is in creation." 
And the Pope goes on to say that 
even non-believers "must. Not can: must! 
Because he has this commandment within him. . . 
the Lord has created us in His image and likeness, 
and has given us this commandment 
in the depths of our heart: do good and do not do evil”."
"And this commandment for everyone to do good, 
I think, is a beautiful path towards peace. 
If we, each doing our own part, if we do good to others, 
if we meet there, doing good, and we go slowly, gently, 
little by little, we will make that culture of encounter: 
we need that so much. We must meet one another doing good."

 And here is the statement that caused such an outcry, 
when the Pope imagines a dialogue: 
"But I don’t believe, Father, I am an atheist!’ 
But do good: we will meet one another there.”
"There" does not mean heaven, but an agreement, 
a path towards peace. 
Indeed, Jesus made an example of the good samaritan 
who was a neighbor to someone in need. 
We all have a purpose, we all have good works to do. 
We all need to make time, 
to use our talents and treasure to bless others!

Jesus was asked whether it was lawful to pay taxes to Caesar 
and he asked to see the coin that pays the tax. 
"Whose image is on it?" He asked, and they answered, "Caesar's." 
"Then repay to Caesar what belongs to Caesar 
and to God what belongs to God." 
Matthew 22:21

Whose image is on us? 
Are we not stamped in the image and likeness of God? 
If we belong to God, we should give Him what is His due- 
honor, obedience, service.
Saint Thomas More was asked to sign a document 
declaring that it was all right for King Henry VIII 
to make himself the head of the Church of England 
and to remarry even if his legal wife was still alive. 
Thomas More refused and he was arrested and tried for treason. 
On his way to his public execution, 
his last words were "I die the King's good servant, but God's first."
Today's gospel shows that although we are citizens of this world, 
we are first citizens of Heaven. 
If ever there is a conflict, we must choose to do 
as St. Thomas More did, and put God first!

"The harvest is abundant but the laborers are few..." 
Luke 10:2
We used to sell a figurine in our shops with the words, 
"Work for the Lord-the pay isn't much 
but the retirement plan is out of this world." 
A lady pointed it out to her daughter and said, 
"I gave this to your dad and it changed his life." 
Apparently the father had been a workaholic 
and the family hardly saw him. 
After he received the figurine, 
he devoted more time to his family and to God.
Yes the harvest is abundant, 
and many more "laborers" are needed. 
We may say we don't have the gifts necessary, 
but Jesus' apostles were the most unlikely bunch. 
He chose them not for what they were 
but for what He could make of them! 
At the start, they usually 
wanted to send the crowds away. 
They thought children were a nuisance. 
Jesus had to teach them for 3 years, 
and even that was not enough. 
He had to die so He could send a helper, 
the Holy Spirit, so they could become brave, wise and 
willing to give up their lives to be 
"laborers in the vineyard", "fishers of men".

 There is a book written in 1773 by a 
then 22 year old Tom Boston with a funny name, 
"The Art of Man Fishing". 
He wrote that the net of the gospel 
is woven from the PROMISES of the gospel. 
I think if we want to be effective fishers of men, 
we need to know the promises of the gospel, 
we need to believe and claim the promises, 
so that we can tell others with conviction 
that all Jesus said is true!

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Friday, October 17, 2014

PPF: My Inheritance, and Yours!

"Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, 
who has blessed you and I in Christ 
with every spiritual blessing in the heavens, 
as He chose you and I in Him, 
before the foundation of the world, 
to be holy and without blemish before Him. 
In love, He destined you and I 
for adoption to Himself through Christ Jesus." 
Ephesians 1:3-5
Hetty Green was called "Americas Greatest Miser" 
because her stinginess was legendary. 
She wore one old black dress and 
had only the dirty hem washed. 
She ate cheap pies and cold oatmeal 
because she hated spending for heating it. 
Even if she had millions from her success in real estate and investments, 
when he son broke his leg as a child, 
she tried to get him treated in a free clinic. 
Because of delay and years of poor treatment, 
his leg had to be amputated. 
When she died in 1916, she left an estate of $100 million.

We don't want to be like Hetty Green, do we? 
So let's not wait to discover how rich we are! 
God has blessed us with EVERY spiritual blessing! 
That's more valuable than any earthy blessing! 
More valuable than $100 milllion! 
And the best part is, He chose us to be adopted into His family! 
I am super excited about that! Are you?

 "In Him you...were sealed with the promised Holy Spirit, 
which is the first installment of our inheritance..." 
Ephesians 1:13-14
First installment. Downpayment. Earnest money. 
Guarantee. Engagement ring. Pledge. 
When we buy a condominium, lot or a car, 
the seller usually asks us to give a deposit 
to show we really have the intention of 
going through with the purchase.
In 1 Peter 1:4, Peter talks of our inheritance 
which is incorruptible, undefiled and unfading. 
It is beyond the reach of decay, and it is kept in heaven for us. 
We don't have to worry about termites 
eating away our inheritance, 
or that it will lose its value because of inflation, 
or that it will disappear because of a natural calamity.

Although that inheritance is in heaven, 
we can have a foretaste of it here on earth, 
because of the Holy Spirit. 
We're heirs! 
The Holy Spirit will work in us and through us, 
to make sure we get our inheritance, starting right now. 
We just have to accept Jesus, 
love and believe in Him, and most importantly obey Him!

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Wednesday, October 15, 2014

WOYWW: Slow and Sure!

 My desk wasn't much of a mess
when I woke up this morning.
That's because I shoved all the mess
into a plastic bag and dumped it under my table!

 I needed to find a picture which I could transform
into a woman holding a basket of fruit.

 "The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, 
kindness, generosity, faithfulness, 
gentleness, self-control." Galatians 5:22-23
Would you believe there is a church in Florida 
that promises a 22-minute service? 
Their songs and prayers are short, 
and the preaching is 8 minutes long! 
I have heard some Catholics say, 
"Let's go to such and such church, 
Father____ gives a short homily."

 We get impatient when it takes long to get our meal served, 
when the wifi is slow, 
when the line at the bank goes on forever, 
when we are asked to wait at the doctor's office, 
when the cable man does not arrive quickly enough!

 Unfortunately there is no express counter 
to line up to get the fruits of the Spirit. 
These all need to grow in us, 
and God has His own way and His own timing. 
It's a slow but sure process. 
And usually we don't know when we are being tested 
for patience, kindness, self-control, generosity... 
If God wants us to practice being loving, sometimes 
He'll send us the hardest person to love! 
Slow and painful!

 Lord, You are my gardener and 
You want me to bloom with beautiful fruit! 
Thank you for lovingly pruning me and taking care of me!

...only faith working through love." Gal.5:6
It's not easy to remember to love, 
to be kind, to forbear, to not be impatient, 
as we go through our day. 
Sometimes we forget WHY we do things. 
A mother can get so busy preparing her kids for school, 
getting herself ready for work, 
that she shouts at her toddler irritably, 
not realizing that she's really doing 
all these because she loves her family.
God blessed our family with a business 
that has provided not only for us, 
but for employees and suppliers as well. 
Some of our suppliers have put their kids through school 
because we've bought products from them for years. 
Others are able to buy medicine 
and to pay for weekly dialysis. 
Sometimes to get someone started, 
we provide capital, tools, training, and that's very fulfilling. 
But once in a while I forget to love, to be kind, 
and I get really angry and impatient with an employee, 
a supplier who makes a mistake. 
My niece Elyse once said, 
"Don't mess with Auntie Patsy today!" 
And I kind of woke up from my bad mood and laughed.