31 October, 2013

Paul and the Thessalonians Sundays 31 - 33 C


Paul and the Thessalonians

Peter Edmonds SJ

 

Over the next three weekends, on Sundays 31-33 of Year C in the lectionary, we will hear Second Readings taken from Paul’s Second Letter to the Thessalonians. What do we know about the community to whom Paul was writing? Peter Edmonds SJ uses the Acts of the Apostles and the two letters that Paul wrote to the Thessalonians to introduce us to these early Christians who ‘received the word with joy inspired by the Holy Spirit’.


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If you mention the Letters to the Thessalonians to anyone with even a slight acquaintance with Paul’s letters, they will almost certainly think immediately of the Second Coming of Christ and the Day of the Lord. This is a good reason why extracts from these letters are read as Second Readings at the close of two of our liturgical years: on five Sundays at the end of Year A in the Catholic Sunday lectionary; and on three Sundays at the end of Year C. (The actual last Sunday of each year, the Feast of Christ the King, has its own readings.)
It is appropriate, then, at this time of year when we visit Thessalonica in our liturgy, to familiarise ourselves with the life of this community of Christians who practised our faith when it was young. There are three brief texts from which we can learn about them, and they teach us that worries about the Last Days were just part of the picture. These texts are 13 verses from the Acts of the Apostles (Acts 17:1-13), the 89 verses (five chapters) of Paul’s First Letter to the Thessalonians and the 47 verses (three chapters) of Paul’s Second Letter to the Thessalonians.

The Acts of the Apostles (Acts 17:1-13)

The passage from Acts is taken from the part of Luke’s book that relates Paul’s progress down the Roman road named the Via Egnatia, which linked various cities in Greece. Paul, with Silas, has crossed from Asia into Europe. His first stay was in Philippi, where Acts is in agreement with Paul’s own report that there he was ‘given rough treatment and grossly insulted’ (Acts 16:11-39; 1 Thessalonians 2:2). His next stay was at Thessalonica. This was an ancient city, founded by a general of Alexander the Great whose ambition was to spread Greek culture and civilisation far and wide. A hundred years before Paul arrived, it had come under the rule of Rome. It was typical of the cities where Christian communities would flourish.
Jason of Thessalonica
As was his custom on arriving in a new city, Paul went straight to the Jewish synagogue. There, for three successive Sabbaths, he argued how the Scriptures spoke about the suffering and rising of Christ. He had limited success, but he certainly caused a stir. He became the victim of a riot: the Jews assembled a crowd to bring him before the city authorities, putting him in great danger by charging him with trying to acclaim Christ as emperor. His opponents seized one called Jason who seems to have given Paul lodging. Obviously Paul had allies because they packed him off to the next town, but the Jews of Thessalonica pursued him and, though his new mission in Beroea made progress, he soon moved on. Perhaps he remembered the instruction of Jesus to the Twelve to leave a town which did not welcome them (Luke 9:5).
This passage is never read out on a Sunday; the readings from Acts after Easter cease after the account of the Council of Jerusalem (15:1-2, 22-29). However, on the fourth Sunday of Easter in Year C, we hear from Paul’s sermon to the Jews in the synagogue at Antioch which gives us a good idea of how Paul would employ scripture in preaching before a Jewish audience (Acts 13:14,43-52).
Acts is dated around AD 85, which means that its author is recounting events of forty years before. The advantage of reading Paul’s First Letter to the Thessaloniansthe earliest New Testament book,is that it was written soon after his missionary visit in 49. Paul was a busy man: his daily preoccupation was ‘his anxiety for all the churches’ (2 Corinthians 11:28). He probably wrote this letter during his eighteen month stay in Corinth (Acts 18:5).

Paul’s First Letter to the Thessalonians

Midway through the First Letter to the Thessalonians, Paul inserts a prayer which commentators recognise as a neat summary of the message he wanted to get across:
Now may our God and Father himself and our Lord Jesus direct our way to you. And may the Lord make you increase and abound in love for one another and for all, just as we abound in love for you. And may he so strengthen your hearts in holiness that you may be blameless before our God and Father at the coming of our Lord Jesus with all his saints. (1 Thessalonians 3:11-13).
He wrote as a substitute for visiting, to increase the quality of love in the community, to strengthen them in holiness (probably an appeal for sexual purity) and to prepare them for the coming of the Lord Jesus. We note other themes, too. His first chapter is an attractive description of the qualities expected of a Christian community; his aim was to win over their good will and to encourage them, and this was his way of doing this. Their Christian life had brought them affliction and he wanted to help them to endure it. He also needed to help them explain himself, his work and his identity to their fellow citizens; this was the topic of his second chapter.
An ideal community (1:1-10) – ‘Their love for one another and for all’
In the Sunday Lectionary, the first chapter is given in two instalments. On the 29th Sunday of Year A, we hear Paul’s greeting. He refers to his companions, Silvanus and Timothy. He describes those he addressed as a ‘church’, despite their small numbers and their youthfulness in the faith. He emphasises the qualities of the faith, love and hope that marked their commitment and, surprisingly at such an early date in the Christian story, he refers to members of the Trinity: he names God as the Father who loves, Jesus as their Lord, and the Holy Spirit as the force and inspiration of the gospel he preached (1:1-5).
On Sunday 30A, he continues his description of the quality of their life together. The Thessalonians were people of joy who, having imitated Paul, had become examples to other communities in Achaia (Greece). He acknowledges the tribulations that they had to face and he congratulates them on their perseverance. The early date of the letter is confirmed by a mention of their expectation of the imminent return of Christ. Presiding over the whole scene is God: the God of these Christians is not a god of idols but a God who is living and active (1:5-10).
There are striking contrasts with what we learnt from Acts. Paul’s converts here are obviously Gentile rather than Jewish because they have turned aside from idols, and Paul makes no obvious appeal to Scripture in his argument. His words presuppose a longer stay than the three weeks reported in Acts.
Paul defends himself (2:7-9, 13) – ‘We abound in love for you’
On Sunday 31A, we read verses from the second chapter of the letter. These are selected from Paul’s response to critics who were telling his converts that he had flattered and deceived them; that, like other wandering teachers of the time, he was a charlatan, out for their money and little else. In answer, Paul describes himself as an apostle of Christ; his care for them was that of a mother; he took great care to make no financial or other demands on them. His commitment was total; he regarded them as his brothers and sisters: theirs was truly a family of God. The gospel he preached was no personal invention, but came from God and derived its power from God. Paul speaks in the powerful tones of a defendant in a secular court. If in the first chapter of the letter, we are offered a model of a Christian community, in this second we gaze at a portrait of a devoted pastor.
Comfort one another (4:13-18) – ‘The coming of our Lord Jesus Christ’
On Sunday 32A, we hear the part of the letter that is best known, partly because it is frequently read at funeral Masses. Paul has heard about a particular problem that had come up in this community with its high expectations of an early return of Christ. They were concerned about their members who had died: would they miss out on this return? Paul’s habit was to approach pastoral problems theologically, and he does so here. He reminds his converts of his basic gospel: that ‘Jesus died and rose again’. What God had done for and with his Son, he would do for them, too. They too would share in the resurrection. This is the start of Paul’s argument. His conclusion is equally relevant: their destiny was to be with the Lord forever, and this was a truth they were to repeat for mutual comfort and encouragement.
If the beginning and end of Paul’s paragraph are easy to assimilate, the same is not true of its centre, because here Paul uses the language of apocalyptic, a way of speaking familiar in his time but not in ours. This is a poetic way of speaking which is not to be taken literally, as it often is by biblical fundamentalists. If we are to meet Christ after being taken up in the clouds, it means that we will share with Christ the same sort of heavenly journey which the apostles saw Jesus take on Ascension Day (Acts 1:9). In a modern scientific age, we do not take such language at its face value, but look for the theological truth that it expresses.
The Day of the Lord (5:1-6) – ‘Blameless before our God and Father’
Our final passage from the first letter on Sunday 33A is on a related topic, the ‘Day of the Lord’. This was a topic treated in prophets like Amos who warned that this would mean ‘darkness, not light’ (5:18). For Paul, this has become the Day of Christ, to be welcomed by his converts who were ‘children of light and children of the day’. The imagery was suggested by the visit of the Roman Emperor to a particular city, a day of joy and celebration. We note that Paul does not commit himself to any date. In this he echoes Jesus in the gospel who tells his disciples that only the Father knows the date of ‘that day or that hour’ (Mark 13:32). He also echoes gospel language in speaking of a thief in the night (Matthew 24:43-44).

The Second Letter to the Thessalonians

As well as being much shorter than the First Letter to the Thessalonians, the Second Letter is less personal. The writer is a more distant figure; the style is more formal, the tone more authoritarian. Most Pauline experts date the letter much later, perhaps of similar vintage to the Letters to Timothy and Titus. They recognise a writer appealing to the authority of Paul years later.
The letter deals with three major topics. The first chapter concentrates on the persecution that the community was enduring. The second chapter instructs about the Second Coming of Christ. This is nothing to be excited about; certain events must occur before it happens, and these things have not happened. The third chapter concentrates on moral behaviour, warning in particular against the dangers of idleness.
The Sunday lectionary provides one passage from each chapter for the Second Readings of the three last Sundays of the entire three year cycle, but they are brief. We only hear 17 of the 47 verses of the letter and some would argue that, in their brevity, these do not include the liveliest and most interesting.
A first prayer (1:11-2:2) – ‘Worthy of your call’
Our first extract on Sunday 31C falls into two parts. The first is an attractive prayer which we can make our own. Its tone is very different from the verses that go before it, which contain some of the fiercest words in Pauline literature; they threaten eternal loss to all who fail to acknowledge God and the gospel of Christ. Its second part introduces an account of the signs which will mark the second coming of Christ. Its message is gentle, telling us not to be alarmed about these events; again this contrasts with the dramatic description that follows of what will happen before Christ comes again.
More prayers (2:16-3:5) – ‘Pray for us’
Our second extract, on Sunday 32C, has prayer as a key word. It begins and ends with a petition to the Lord Jesus Christ as well as God the Father for comfort and strength, that the hearers may turn their hearts towards the love of God and the fortitude of Christ. They were to keep the traditions they have been taught. Enclosed by these prayers is an appeal for prayer for Paul and his mission. Such prayer is to be confident because it is directed to a Lord who is faithful. The ‘bigoted and evil people’, so prominent at the beginning of the letter, are hardly mentioned.
Daily living (3:7-12) – ‘We worked night and day’
The passage appointed for Sunday 33C indicates practical problems that arose in early Christian communities. Paul appeals to his own example of working day and night in order that he should be no burden on them. It could be that certain leaders, and others in the community, were idle and expecting other church members to take care of them. The prayers quoted in previous passages from this letter should have ensured that everybody got on quietly with their work and earned their keep. In these final lines, Paul uses unusually strong language of command; he much prefers to request than to order. The whole passage is bracketed by the words, ‘Our Lord Jesus Christ’, words that also occur in the first and last verses of the letter.
The Church at Thessalonica continues to this day in Thessaloniki, the second city of modern Greece; the letters that Paul wrote to their predecessors in the faith live on in our Bibles and our liturgies. Paul wrote, ‘My orders, in the Lord’s name, are that this letter be read to all the brothers and sisters’ (1 Thessalonians 5:27). His hearers heeded this order and kept the letter for posterity, so that Paul’s praise for their ‘work of faith, labour of love and steadfastness of hope in our Lord Jesus Christ’ (1 Thessalonians 1:3) was not forgotten. May we become imitators of them, as they became imitators of Paul and the Lord (1 Thessalonians 1:6).


Peter Edmonds SJ is a member of the Jesuit community in Stamford Hill, north London.

More articles on the Letters of Saint Paul on Thinking Faith:

 ‘The Letter to the Colossians’ by Brian Purfield

 ‘The Letter of Paul to the Philippians’ by Peter Edmonds SJ

 ‘The Letters to Timothy and Titus’ by Peter Edmonds SJ

30 October, 2013

Mother Teresa

Pope Francis meets with Aung San Suu Kyi, Myanmar's 'Iron Lady'

Pope Francis to Vatican TV: 'Thank you for your patience'


31st Sunday

Dear Friend,
There are some things we desire so much in life that we are ready to take a risk and sometimes pay any price to acquire what we desire. Sometimes these things might appear insignificant to others: like getting a movie ticket, a particular dress or suit, a particular job or interview or the latest computer gadget, but to us they mean everything. Have we the desire to see God, to meet Him? What risk are we ready to take, what ridicule are we ready to face to encounter Him?

Have a blessed encountering weekend!


Fr. Jude
Fr. Jude Botelho

Reflection


Today’s first reading, from the Book of Wisdom, written a century before Christ points out that salvation doesn’t necessarily come primarily only to those who are focused against sin, which is negative, but to those who are open to God’s love, which is positive. It puts everything into proper perspective. Before the Lord the whole universe is as a grain on a scale, very small and insignificant, or as the morning dew. On the other hand, God is almighty and all powerful. Yet this mighty God cares and is concerned not only about the universe but also about each and every one of us and is merciful towards us. He gently corrects us and leads us from evil back to him. How do we respond to this great love? In the words of the psalmist we say: ‘I will bless your name forever more.’

He wants the best for us
A columnist, Scott Bennett, tells the story of a man ‘Michael’, who was facing a series of devastating reversals in his life, leaving him desperate and defenseless. He had no job, his car had been repossessed, his marriage was ending, and his father had just died a month earlier. One night, in a frantic cry for help, Michael lifted up his face to the stars. And then the incredible happened. This is how he expressed it: “I felt I was one with…. call it God, call it creation… I don’t know. I do know I felt a peace that I have never known before or since. A power and a purpose was revealed to me that night that I cannot put in words. But I never doubted again that life is precious and has a purpose. –As Christians we are blessed with a faith that teaches us we have in God a compassionate, caring and loving father, whose thoughts are above ours as the heavens are above the earth. God who created us loves us, cares for us and will never cease pursuing what is best for us even if we fail out of human frailty. “What the caterpillar calls the end of the road, God calls a butterfly.”
James Valladares in ‘Your words, O Lord, Are Spirit, and They Are Life’

The Gospel today shows us clearly the attitude of God towards sinners illustrated in how Jesus treats Zacchaeus the tax collector. Although his profession would have made him very rich, Zacchaeus led a lonely and isolated life in spite of his wealth. He had heard of Jesus and his reputation in dealing with prostitutes and sinners. Zacchaeus hoped and wanted to see Jesus. He hears that Jesus is passing that way but he is lost in the crowds and is too short to see Jesus. But he grabs the opportunity of seeing him by climbing a sycamore tree to get a glimpse of Jesus. Perhaps, the crowds are amused by this short man, a respectable tax collector, who is perched on the tree. But Jesus does not pass by without noticing his effort. He stops, looks up and calls Zacchaeus by name. “Zacchaeus, come down! Hurry, because I must stay at your home today!” Zacchaeus, cannot believe his ears, Jesus is coming to his home and wants to stay with him! The impossible has become possible! The crowds are enraged because Jesus has invited himself to the house of a sinner, a tax collector, a traitor and friend of the Romans. Jesus is not bothered by the reaction of the crowd. He does not see the sins but he sees the sinner and reaches out. Jesus’ attitude touches Zacchaeus and the man who had been collecting riches all his life now is ready to give it all to others, He no longer needs his riches, he has found Jesus. It is worthwhile noting that Jesus does not demand repentance before entering into Zacchaeus’ home. Jesus overlooks the wrong doing in the hope that he will repent. He gave Zacchaeus the opportunity to change in the atmosphere of unconditional acceptance. We change not because God forces us to change but only when we experience His unconditional acceptance even in our sins.

God comes to us in spite of ourselves!
A woman was at work when she received a phone call that her daughter was very sick with fever. She left her work and stopped by the pharmacy to pick up some medication for her daughter. On returning to her car she found that she had locked her keys in the car. She was in a hurry to get home to her sick daughter. She found a coat hanger there. Then she looked at the hanger and said, “I don’t know how to use this.” So she bowed her head and asked the Lord to send some help. A man got out of his car and asked her if he could help. “Please can you use this hanger to unlock my car?” she said. He said, “Sure.” He walked over to the car and in less than one minute, the car was opened. She hugged the man and through tears, she said, “Thank you so much! You are a very nice man.” The man replied, “Lady, I am not a nice man. I just got out of prison today. I was in prison for car theft and have only been out for about an hour.” The woman hugged the man again and with sobbing tears cried aloud, “Oh, Thank you God! You even sent me a professional!” –While we are all sinners, the Lord sees the good within us and keeps coming, knocking at the door of our hearts, encouraging us to come closer to him.
Tomi Thomas in ‘Spice up your homilies’

Advantage Disadvantage
Several years ago there was a basketball player by the name of Nate Archibald. When Nate finished college, most of the professional teams ignored him because they thought he was too short. In fact his nickname was ‘Tiny’. The Cincinnati Royals decided to take a chance on Nate and signed him to play on their team. Well, Nate made it big in the NBA because he was lightning fast, had good hands, and was a great shooter. He played in the NBA for fourteen seasons and became known as the player who proved that a ‘little man’ could play in the NBA. Just look at some of the honours he won: He was named to the All-NBA team five times. He was named to the NBA All-Star team six times. He was elected to the NBA Hall of Fame. Not too bad for a man most people thought was too short to play in the NBA. –The Bible tells us about another short man who became great, even though he was not very tall. His name was Zacchaeus. Zacchaeus was not only short; he was hated by almost everyone because he was a tax collector. As a tax collector he often cheated people and collected more taxes than they owed. When he heard that Jesus was passing by he made an attempt to climb a tree to see Jesus. Jesus saw him and called him by name and went to his house and Zacchaeus was changed forever. When Jesus enters our lives our shortcomings, our handicaps do not matter at all.
John Pichappilly in ‘The Table of the Word’

Cared for the least of his people
There were some eyebrows raised when John XXIII was elected pope. He was in his seventies and there was no great hope that he was going to shake the Church. One of the first things he did, however, made people sit up and notice. He went in person to visit prisoners in one of Rome’s prisons. He met them as equals and chatted informally with each. He even disclosed that he himself had a relative in jail! The work and short pontificate of this man was going to open many doors, and set many prisoners free. ?Jack McArdle in ‘And that’s the Gospel Truth’

May we remember that every tiny step we take towards Jesus is always blessed by Him!


Fr. Jude Botelho
botelhojude@gmail.com

24 October, 2013

Thirtieth Sunday in Ordinary Time 27 October 2013 Luke 18: 9-14


Thirtieth Sunday in Ordinary Time
 
27 October 2013

Luke 18: 9-14
 
To some who were confident of their own righteousness and looked down on everybody else, Jesus told this parable:  “Two men went up to the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector.  The Pharisee stood up and prayed about  himself: ‘God, I thank you that I am not like other men—robbers, evildoers, adulterers—or even like this tax collector.  I fast twice a week and give a tenth of all I get.’

“But the tax collector stood at a distance. He would not even look up to heaven, but beat his breast and said, ‘God, have mercy on me, a sinner.’

“I tell you that this man, rather than the other, went home justified before God. For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted.”


Who am I to judge?
 
The parable of the Pharisee and the publican tends to arouse in many Christians a strong rejection of the Pharisee who stands before God looking arrogant and sure of himself, and a spontaneous sympathy for the publican who humbly acknowledges his sin. Paradoxically, the story can awaken in us this feeling:  “I give thee thanks, my God, because I am not like this Pharisee.”

   To hear the message of the parable correctly, we have to realize that Jesus does not tell the story to  criticize the group of Pharisees, but to trouble the  consciences of “some who held themselves as just, felt secure about themselves and despised the rest.” Among these we find  indeed many Catholics in our times.

   The prayer of the Pharisee reveals to us his inner attitude. “Oh God! I thank you because I am not like the others.”What kind of a prayer is this that prompts us to believe ourselves better than others? Even a Pharisee, who faithfully fulfills the law, can live with a perverted attitude. This man feels himself just before God and precisely for this reason he becomes a judge who despises and condemns those who are not like him.

   The publican, on the other hand, only manages to say: “Oh God, have mercy on me, a sinner.” This man humbly recognizes his sin  He cannot boast about how holy his life is.  He commends himself to the compassion of God. He does not compare himself to anyone. He does not judge the others. He lives the truth as he sees it and before God.

    The parable is a sharp criticism that exposes a deceptive religious attitude  allowing us to live in the sight of God confident of our innocence while we condemn from a stance of our supposed  moral superiority all those who do not think or act like us.

   Historical circumstances and self-congratulatory trends at variance with the Gospel have made Catholics especially prone to this temptation. So we have to read the parable, each one of us , in an attitude that looks critically at ourselves: Why do we believe ourselves better than agnostics? Why do we feel ourselves closer to God than those who do not practice their faith? What lies behind certain prayers for the conversion of sinners?  What does it mean to make reparation for the sins of others while we ourselves are not converted to God?

   Recently, when asked by a journalist, Pope Francis made  this statement: “Who am I to judge someone who is gay?” His reply surprised almost everyone. Apparently, no one expected such a simple and evangelical  reply from a Catholic Pope.  However, this is the attitude of those who truly live before God.

13 October, 2013

28th Sun C Gratitude

06-Oct-2013

We all like to receive gifts and when we receive them we are quick to open the gift wrapping to find out what gift we have received. If it is a gift we desired and wanted very much we are absolutely taken up by the gift and cherish it. But sometimes we feel that we merited the gift and deserved the gift we have received. But a gift is no gift if we have earned it! A grateful heart is never sad because everything is truly a gift! Have a grateful weekend counting your many blessings and expressing thanks! Fr. Jude

Sunday Reflections: 28th Sunday of the Year - 'Gratitude is memory of the heart' 13-Oct-2013
2 Kings 5: 14-17;                                 2 Timothy 2: 8-13;                  Luke 17: 11-19;

The first reading speaks of the healing of Naaman the leper by the prophet Elisha and his deep gratitude that he shows for the healing he has experienced. He wishes to express his gratitude by offering a gift, and when the prophet refuses the gift, he shows his thanks by carrying back soil on which to erect an altar to the true God. What is remarkable is that Naaman is a foreigner, a pagan who acknowledges the true God, while the Israelites refuse to acknowledge and worship their true God, but go after pagan Gods! The response psalm expresses the thanks of both Naaman and the leper, as well as the gratitude of the Church, for the gift of salvation in Christ. "Sing a new song to the Lord for he has worked wonders."

Showing Gratitude
Byron Dell grew up on a farm in Nebraska. When he was eight years old, he had a pony named Frisky. Sometimes the pony lived up to its name. One morning when Byron was getting the cows, Frisky bolted at breakneck speed. Byron held on for dear life, and emerged unhurt. That night Byron's father accompanied him upstairs to bed and asked his son to kneel with him and thank God that he was not hurt. There besides Byron's bed the father prayed out aloud a spontaneous prayer of thanksgiving to God. That incident happened 55 years ago, but Byron never forgot it. It moved him deeply and gave him a greater appreciation of his father. Above all, it taught him to be grateful. And ever since, he has made gratitude to God a regular part of his life.
Mark Link in "Sunday Homilies"

Today's gospel tells us that Jesus was travelling to Jerusalem along the border between Samaria and Galilee. It was not a common road used by people and lepers were there as they could not be seen where most people dwelt. They stood far off and pleaded their case: "Jesus, master, have pity on us!" The lepers were outcasts of society and people avoided them but Jesus notices them and acknowledges their plea. However, he does not heal them immediately. He asks them to go and show themselves to the priest, as that was ritual to be followed according to the law. All ten of them follow the command of Jesus and all ten of them as they go to the priest, are cured of their illness. Surely they would be excited and delighted at their good fortune and all of them are so happy that they go perhaps to meet their family and friends to share the good news. They are caught up by their cure but they forget the healer. Only one, a Samaritan, remembers his benefactor and comes back to thank Jesus. He falls at his feet and thanks him. The other nine saw Jesus only as a wonder worker who healed them. The Samaritan realized who Jesus was: the Messiah and Saviour. To him Jesus says, "Get up and go your way; your faith has made you well." Ten lepers were healed outwardly but only one was healed inwardly. While we are grateful for the gifts we have received it is not enough to revel in the gifts and enjoy the gifts, we have to go to the source of the gifts: Jesus. The most effective way to come to gratitude is to remember 'where we came from'.

Annual Thanksgiving Letter
In 1939, Sgt. Robert Mac Cormack saved the life of his commanding officer, Mayor Harry Parkin, on a battlefield in France.  He has just received his thirty-fifty annual letter of thanks from Parkin, now an estate agent in Richmond, Yorkshire. "Dear Bob," Parkin wrote, "I want to thank you for the thirty five years of my life which ordinarily I would not have had were it not for you. I am grateful to you." -Yes, gratitude is the memory of the heart. We are often accustomed to turn to God in trouble and forget him when things go well. Day after day we experience God's blessings and care, but are we grateful to him?
Antony Kolencherry in 'Living the Word'
Schindler's List
Oskar Schindler was a German industrialist, who during World War II, single-handedly and tenaciously saved thousands of Polish Jews from the horrors and brutalities of incarceration in the diabolical concentration camps. As the war ended, the defeated Germans pulled out of Poland and the people eagerly awaited the arrival of the Russians. But just before the Russians arrived, Oskar Schindler, fearing for his safety, decided to flee westwards as well. When word got around that Oskar Schindler was planning to leave, the people he saved rallied together and began to discuss ways and means to express their heartfelt gratitude. But they had little to offer him. Suddenly, one man opened his mouth and pointed to the gold bridge-work on his teeth. "Take this please, and give it to Oskar." That was indeed a very noble gesture, but the people would not hear of it. "Please," begged the man, "please take it away. Were it not for Oskar, the SS would have taken it anyway. And my teeth would have been in a heap in some SS warehouse, along with the golden fangs of many others." So the people agreed. One of them who was a dentist in Cracow, extracted the gold. He passed it on to a jeweller, who melted it and fashioned a ring. On the inner rim of that ring, he inscribed the following words from the Talmud, "The one who saves a single life saves the entire world."
James Valladares in 'Your words, O Lord, Are Spirit, and They Are Life'

Attitude of Gratitude
Some years ago a movie came out which humourously depicted a division of humanity between those who were grateful and those ungrateful, titled, 'What about Bob?' It stars Richard Dreyfuss as a psychologist who has everything: a lovely wife and children, a dream house, a successful practice and a best-selling book which gives advice for problem solving. But the psychologist himself has a problem: nothing makes him happy. By way of contrast, he has a patient named Bob who possesses very little, but shows a dog-like gratitude for any scrap he receives. Played by Bill Murphy, Bob winds up at the psychiatrist's home as an uninvited dinner guest. He savours each item of food, loudly expressing his satisfaction. Unaccustomed to such gratefulness, the wife is pleased, but her husband grows more and more irritated until he finally explodes, slamming his fists on the table and telling Bob to be quiet. - Our genuine happiness lies not in what we achieve, but in how we receive. A sense of accomplishment is important, but much more significant is having an attitude of gratitude. Our ability of receiving the great gift of faith depends on our attitude of gratitude.
John Pichappilly in 'The Table of the Word'

Best of Gifts
There is a huge fortress on a hill overlooking the town of Weinsberg in Germany. One day, far back in feudal times, the fortress was surrounded by the enemy. The commander of the enemy troops agreed to let all women and children leave the fortress. He also agreed to allow each woman take one valuable possession with her. Imagine the amazement and frustration of the commander when he saw each woman leave the fortress with her husband on her back! Charity begins at home. The hardest place to practice the gospel is at home in my own house.
Jack McArdle in 'And that's the Gospel truth!'

Thanks for Anything!
On leaving home after holidays to return to my Gujarat mission years ago, my little nieces Ruth and Rachel joyfully cried out, "Thanks, Uncle Frankie!" Taken aback, I inquired, "What for?" They replied in unison, "Thanks for going!" Being a kind of disciplinarian who controlled their TV viewing habits, they were thankful that I was going away. Truly, thanksgiving can be for anything, anywhere, anytime. And, to everybody!
Francis Gonsalves in 'Sunday Seeds for Daily Deeds'

May we always be grateful because everything we have is a gift!
 
Fr. Jude Botelho
PS. The stories, incidents and anecdotes used in the reflections have been collected over the years from books as well as from sources over the net and from e-mails received. Every effort is made to acknowledge authors whenever possible. If you send in stories or illustrations I would be grateful if you could quote the source as well so that they can be acknowledged if used in these reflections.
These reflections are also available on my Web site
www.NetForLife.net Thank you.

28th Sun Pagola C


Twenty Eighth Sunday in Ordinary Time ©

Luke 17, 11-19

José Antonio Pagola

Belief without gratitude

The story begins by narrating the cure of a group of ten lepers on the outskirts of Samaria. But this time Luke does not stop at the details of the healing, but in the reaction of one of the lepers on finding himself cured. The evangelist carefully describes all the steps, for he wants to shake up the routine faith of not a few Christians.

   Jesus has asked the lepers to present themselves to the priests to obtain the authorization that will allow them to rejoin society. But one of them,  a  Samaritan by birth, on seeing that he  was cured, instead of going to the priests, returns to find Jesus. He feels a new life has begun for him. Everything will be different in future: he will be able to live a more dignified and happy life. He knows to whom he owes his new found dignity. He needs to meet Jesus.

   He returns “praising God in a loud voice.”   He knows that the saving power of Jesus can only have its source in God. Now he feels something new for that Good Father of whom Jesus speaks. He will never forget him. He will in future live giving thanks to God. He will praise him with all his might. Everyone must know that he feels loved by him.

   On meeting Jesus, he throws himself at his feet giving him thanks. His companions have gone on their way to meet the priests, but he knows that Jesus is his only savior. So he is here at his side thanking him. He has found the best gift from God in Jesus.

   At the conclusion of the story, Jesus speaks to ask three questions to express his surprise at what happened. They are not addressed to the Samaritan at his feet. They contain the message Luke wants heard in Christian communities.

   “Were not the ten made clean?” Were not all cured? Why do they not recognize what they have received from Jesus? “The other nine, where are they?” Why aren’t they there?   Why are there so many Christians who live without almost ever giving thanks to God? Why do they not feel specially grateful to Jesus? Do they not know him? Does he mean nothing new to them?

   “Has no one except this foreigner returned to give glory to God?” Why have people who feel a real admiration for and gratitude to Jesus  given up religious practice, while some Christians feel nothing special towards him? Benedict XVI mentioned a few years ago that an agnostic who seeks God may be nearer him than a Christian of routine faith who carries on because of tradition and inherited practice. A faith that does not produce joy  and gratitude in believers is a sick faith.


28th Sun C Gratitude



October 13, 2013

28th Sunday of the Ordinary Time C


Daily Mass Reading - Audio



Gratitude vs. Entitlement


Human beings are so funny in a way. They know ridiculous ways to make themselves as well as others unhappy even though there is no need to be so. Today’s first reading taken from 2 Kings tells us the story of the miraculous healing of a man called Naaman who was a valiant and well respected army commander of Benhadad, the king of Aram. Unfortunately he was suffering from leprosy, one of the most dreaded and disfiguring diseases. At his request Benhadad sent him to Joram, the king of Israel with a letter which read: “With this letter I am sending my servant Naaman to you, that you may cure him of his leprosy.” King Joram had a shock of his life – to cure a leper! He was sure that the mighty Benhadad was looking for a reason to attack and plunder his country. He tore his garment and cried aloud. However Elisha the prophet consoled him saying that he will take care of it. Eventually Naaman was cured of his leprosy. Naaman was ready to reward the prophet generously; but Elisha refused to accept any remuneration for the divine blessing granted for which he just happened to be a channel.


In fact, we are all channels of divine blessings. We are stewards or storekeepers of the divine treasure house. Our vocation is to distribute the divine blessings in the particular situation we find ourselves in. God gave birth to us and she is still taking care of us for a purpose (Did I say she? Yes, it was not a slip of tongue; I meant it. As far as I came to know, he is a she!), God wants us to be her representatives in the particular situation in which she placed us in order to distribute her blessings and gifts to her children. When I say her children, I do not mean human beings alone. Every bit of creation, including our mother earth is her children. Nobody else can fill-in the position that God has created for us. Ours is a unique position, whether we succeed in that role or not. Failing in our role does not mean that we can defeat God, we can fail only ourselves. In due course, even without our support and cooperation, God will accomplish her plan through introducing somebody else to rectify our failures. If we play our role efficiently we make God our mother proud and our brothers and sisters happy and our own life worthwhile. Now what are we supposed to distribute? It is already given to us - our time, our talents and our treasures. We are stewards of these 3Ts – time, talents and treasures. We are not their owners. These are given to us freely for free distribution – not to hoard up or to own them as our private property. They will be with us only for a short while. Whether we deal them out or not, they will not stay with us forever. We will run out of our time, talents and treasures sooner or later!


Now let us have a look at the gospel story - healing of the ten lepers - nine of them Jews and one Samaritan. All of them pleaded with Jesus and as usual he felt pity on them and sent them to the priests so that they may pay the tribute and get reinstated publically into the society from which they were cast out on account of their dreadful disease. On their way they found themselves cleansed of their repulsive disease. They went home happily. But one of them, as St Luke says, “came back glorifying God in a loud voice; and he fell at the feet of Jesus and thanked him.” And he was the Samaritan. Why did the Samaritan come back and why the Jews not? The reason is simple and obvious. The Jews never felt that they need come back and thank Jesus, because they know that they were entitled to get cured by Jesus a fellow Jew, whereas that Samaritan had no right or claim to receive such a miraculous healing. In fact Jesus deserved to be condemned for treating a Samaritan in the same way he treated his fellow Jews. There is nothing wrong in the Samaritan being grateful because he had no right; he never deserved to be healed. I hope you noticed, at the very beginning of today’s reflection I said, “Human beings are so funny in a way. They know ridiculous ways to make themselves as well as others unhappy even though there is no need to be so.” We are a funny bunch. By claiming “entitlement” we make our own life as well as the lives of other who associate with us miserable. The moment we are given something generously, we own it and later on claim that we deserved it. To get and to forget is our nature.


It was not because of any merit of theirs that people of Israel was chosen by Yahweh. But the moment they were chosen they began considering themselves special and above everybody else. This attitude of entitlement we can see in almost every person. The moment a girl gives her consent to marry a boy, he starts possessing her - dictating terms and conditions. The moment a person is employed out of sympathy for his miserable situation, he starts striking for better wages he is entitled to have. Husband think he is entitled to have a better treatment from his wife while wife thinks that she is entitled to be better cared for by her husband. Parents think that they are entitled to get all the respect from their children, children think that they are entitled to be treated better by their parents. Teachers think that they are entitled to be treated better by students, students too feel the same. Thus we are all people of entitlement – only rights no duties! Nobody thinks anybody deserves to be thanked for. Why should we show gratitude towards anybody, even towards God! Is it not his duty to take care of us and provide us what we need? Or why did he create us? In fact God should be condemned for his partiality – he is extra generous to some people while utterly stingy towards others! Why this favoritism and preferential treatment? Why all were not treated equally? How can we be grateful to God or, for that matter, to anybody else when it is quite evident that in comparison we got less than others! We are entitled to have a better deal than what we have at present. Dear friends, when gratitude is replaced by an attitude of entitlement everybody suffers. If we replace our attitude of entitlement with an attitude of gratitude, our world will turn out to be heavenly.


Dr Kurian Perumpallikunnel CMI

Back To Current Homilies





11 October, 2013

Pope Francis: the worldly spirit kills the soul

Prayer on the Tomb of St. Francis of Assisi and Holy Mass

At Angelus Pope Francis renews call for peace in Syria (+playlist)

Pope Francis: Church grows through witness of humility (+playlist)

Jackie Fernades is no more.

Jackie Fernandez with grandsons.
On Thursday, October 10, 2013 10:40 PM, CP <cedricprakash@gmail.com> wrote:
Dear Friends,
Just a line to give you the very sad news that our dear friend Mr. Jackie Fernandes  from Ahmedabad,is no more!
He passed away a few hours ago after a massive heart attack in Princeton USA.
He and his wife Leela were visiting their children Alka and Austin (and their families) here. They had already spent a few months with them and were planning to return in November
I spent a couple of days with them a few days ago. Jackie was looking well and had no physical complaint!
His death is a terrible shock to his beloved wife Leela , his daughter Alka(husband Edwin and sons Kevin and Darin) and son Austin(wife Ingrid and sons Ian and Ethan). We pray that they have the strength to bear this loss.
His funeral will take place on Saturday 12th October at Princeton. I plan to be there
May Jackie rest in peace!
Our  heartfelt sympathies to Leela, Jackie, Austin and all the family
Fr. Cedric
 Jackie is from St Xavier's Parish
Their emails


05 October, 2013

Pagola's letter to Pope Francis - worth reading

Get the evangelical renewal going!
José Antonio Pagola
Priest and theologian
Dear brother Francis:
Ever since you were elected to be the humble “Rock” on which Jesus wishes to keep on building his Church, I have carefully followed your speeches.
I have just returned from Rome where I was able to see you embrace children, bless the sick and helpless and greet the crowds. They say you love people, are simple, humble and friendly… and so much else.
I think I see in you something more, much more. I had a chance to see St. Peter’s square and the Via della Conciliazione full of enthusiastic people.
Within a few months you have become “good news” for the Church and even much beyond the Church. Why? Almost without realizing it, you are bringing to the world the Good News of Jesus.   
You are creating a new climate in the Church – more evangelical and more human. You are bringing us the Spirit of Christ. People who have abandoned the Christian faith tell me you help them to trust more in life and in the goodness of the human being. Some who know no paths to God admit to me that a small light has lit up within them which invites them to think again about their attitude to the ultimate Mystery of existence.
I know that in the Church we need very  deep reforms to correct the deviations fostered for many centuries, but during these last years a conviction has been growing in me. For these reforms to be able to be brought about, we first need a conversion at a more deep and radical level.
Quite simply, we need to return to Jesus, to have our Christianity rooted more truly and more faithfully in his person, his message and his project of the Kingdom of God.
That is why I wish to tell you what it is that appeals to me most in your ministry as Bishop of Rome at the beginning of your career.
I thank you for embracing children and holding them close to your heart. You  are helping us to recover that prophetic gesture of Jesus so forgotten in the Church, but so important to understand what he wanted from his followers. According to the Gospel story, Jesus called the Twelve, placed a little child in the midst of them, embraced him and said to them: Whoever receives a little child like this one  in my name receives me.”
We had forgotten that in the middle of the Church, drawing the attention of all have to be  the little ones, the weakest and the most fragile and vulnerable. It is important that you are among us as a “Rock” on which Jesus builds his Church, but it is as important or more so that you are in the midst of us embracing the little ones and blessing the sick and helpless, to remind us how we are to receive Jesus. This prophetic gesture seems to me decisive at this time in which the world runs the risk of being dehumanized by evading the responsibility for those of no account.
I thank you for calling us time and again to get outside the Church to enter into the life of people who suffer and enjoy  life, who struggle and work hard; the world  where God wants to build a more human, just and supportive society.
I believe that the most serious and subtle heresy that has penetrated Christianity is to have made the Church the centre of everything displacing the project of the Kingdom of God from the horizon.
John Paul II reminded us  that the Church is not an end in itself, but only the seed, sign, and instrument of the Kingdom of God; but his words were lost among many other discourses.
It makes me very happy when you call us to get out of ourselves to reach out to the existential periphery, where we will meet the poor, the victims, the sick, the unfortunate ones.
I enjoy underlining your words: We must build bridges, not walls to defend the faith; we need a Church with open doors, not of people who control the faith; “ the Church does not grow through proselytism, but through attraction, witness and preaching. “ I seem to hear the voice of Jesus who from the Vatican urges us: “Go and announce that the Kingdom of God is near.” “Go and heal the sick” , “what you have freely received, freely give.”
I thank you, too, for your constant calls to be converted to the Gospel. How well you know the Church. Your freedom to name our sins amazes me.  You do not do so in the language of a moralist, but in the power of the Gospel: the incidents of envy, social climbing, the desire for wealth, disinformation, defamation and calumny , arrogance and clerical hypocrisy, “spiritual worldliness” and selfishly materialistic, salon Christians,  believers who are museum pieces, Christians who wear funereal aspects.
Salt that has lost its taste worries you a lot, a salt that doesn’t have any taste. And you call us to be disciples who learn to live life modeled on Jesus.  
You do not call us only to an individual conversion. You urge us on to a structural  renewal of the Church. We are not used to hearing such language.  Deaf to the call for renewal of Vatican II, we  have forgotten that Jesus invited his followers “to put new wine in new wineskins.”
That is why, your homily for the feast of Pentecost fills me with hope.  “Novelty always fills us with a little fear, because we feel more safe if we have everything under control, it is we who build, program and plan our lives according to our mindsets, feelings of security and tastes… We are afraid God will lead us through new ways, draw us out of our frequently limited, closed , egoistic horizons to open us out to his own.
This is why you beg us to ask ourselves sincerely: “Are we open to the surprises God has for us, or do we shut ourselves in out of fear to the newness of the Holy Spirit? Are we ready to follow the new ways the novelty God presents us, or do we entrench ourselves in outdated structures that have lost the ability to respond? Your message and your spirit are announcing a new future for the Church.
I want to   end these lines by humbly expressing a desire. Perhaps you may not be able to make great reforms, but you can move forward the evangelical renewal in the whole Church. Surely, you can take suitable measures so that the future bishops of the dioceses of the whole world have the personal qualities and pastoral approach capable of promoting that conversion to Jesus which you try to encourage from Rome.
Francisco, you are a gift of God. Thanks!


02 October, 2013

The Little Flower

Saint Thérèse of Lisieux
Feast Day October 1
From obscurity as a young, idealistic Carmelite, Thérèse of Lisieux has emerged as one of the best-loved saints. Her simplicity attracts us because she puts holiness within our reach.
Thérèse was the daughter of Louis and Zélie Martin. When she was four years old, her pleasant childhood was interrupted by Zélie’s untimely death. Then Thérèse’s older sister, Pauline, took responsibility for raising her in the faith. In 1882, Pauline entered the Carmelite convent at Lisieux, igniting a desire in Thérèse to do the same. Thérèse’s fourteenth year was pivotal. Her sister, Mary, joined Pauline at the convent. And at Christmas, the young saint had an experience she described as her “conversion.” Later, in A Story of a Soul, her autobiography, Thérèse described it as a release from depression and oversensitivity: “Jesus flooded the darkness of my soul with torrents of light. I got back for good the strength of soul lost when I was four and a half. Love filled my heart, I forgot myself, and henceforth I was happy.” In spite of Thérèse’s youth, the next year the bishop allowed her to become a Carmelite at Lisieux.
From childhood Thérèse aspired to become a missionary and a martyr. It soon became clear to her, however, that neither option was open to a cloistered nun. So she sought the Holy Spirit and searched the Scripture for another way to excel:
We live in an age of inventions. We need no longer climb laboriously up flights of stairs. And I am determined to find an elevator to carry me to Jesus, for I was too small to climb the steep stairs of perfection. So I sought in Holy Scripture some idea of what this lift I wanted would be, and I read, “Whoever is a little one, let him come to me” (see Luke 8:16). I also wanted to know how God would deal with a “little one,” so I searched and found: “You shall be carried in her arms and fondled in her lap; as a mother comforts her son. . . .” (Isaiah 66:12–13 NAB) It is your arms, Jesus, which are the elevator to carry me to heaven. So there is no need for me to grow up. In fact: just the opposite: I must become less and less.
In 1897, Thérèse thought her dream of becoming a missionary was about to come true. The Carmelites at Hanoi in Indochina, now Vietnam, had invited her to join them. But on the early morning of Good Friday she began to hemorrhage from the mouth. She had contracted tuberculosis, which tortured her for several months before it took her life on September 30, 1897.

Sunday 27th C - Loyola Press

First Reading
Habakkuk 1:2-3; 2:2-4
The patience of the just man shall be rewarded when he sees the vision fulfilled.
Responsorial Psalm
Psalm 95:1-2,6-7,8-9
Sing joyfully to God, our salvation.
Second Reading
2 Timothy 1:6-8,13-14
Paul urges Timothy to remain strong in the Spirit of faith Timothy received.
Gospel Reading
Luke 17:5-10
Jesus teaches the apostles the importance of faith and service to God.
Background on the Gospel Reading
In today's Gospel we hear Jesus teach about faith and service to God. The context is a continuing dialogue between Jesus and his followers about what it means to be a disciple of Jesus. Jesus has just finished an instruction on sin and forgiveness. There are two related teachings that Jesus offers to his disciples when they cry out for an increase in faith. The first is the familiar reminder that faith, even just a little, will enable the followers of Jesus to do wondrous things. But this uplifting and inspiring teaching is quickly followed by the second teaching, a caution about knowing one's place in God's plans. The disciples of Jesus are to understand themselves as servants to God and his plans. Even when God works wonders through us, with our mustard seed-sized faith, we must not seek praise. Our participation in God's plans is God's grace to us—nothing more, nothing less. When we are graced enough to cooperate with God, the work we do is nothing more than our obligation to God as faithful stewards. And yet, our faith enables us to believe that what we have offered in service to God, as his servants, can be made to produce a hundredfold.

KNXT-TV Reflections - 27th Sunday, Year C: (10/06/13)

27th Sun C Jude B

Dear Friend,

We know from experience that when we have faith in someone we are ready to trust that person. To be believers is to trust in God! But often we put terms and conditions to our faith. Our faith is weak and conditional. In this Year of faith we are asked to exercise our faith and trust in God more and more. Even the little faith we have can work miracles if we let God take over! Have a faith-filled trusting weekend!  Fr. Jude

Sunday Ref. 27th Sun. of the Year: "We do not need more faith. But have faith like a mustard seed and act on it!" 6-Oct-2013

The Prophet Habakkuk, a contemporary of Jeremiah wants to know why God the all-pure, the all-holy allows Israel to suffer at the hands of the unholy pagans. Why is it that sinners prosper while the just are made to suffer? - A question that is relevant today as well! God's answer: that no power can overcome the faithful person, is valid today as well. Habakkuk had the great event of the Exodus to remind him and the Israelites that God is the 'Rock', he saves his people. All we have to do is trust and be faithful to Him even when he appears to be silent.

Mountain moving faith
An old woman regularly read the Bible before retiring at night. One day she came across the passage that said: "If you have faith as little as a mustard seed and ask the mountain to go away, it will go." She decided to test the efficacy of the passage. There was a hillock behind her house. She commanded the hillock to go away from there and went to bed. In the morning she got up as usual and remembered her command to the hillock. She wore her spectacles and peered through the window. The hillock was there. Then she muttered to herself, "Ah! That's what I thought."  - What she thought was that the mountain would not move. While her outer mind gave the command, her inner mind was convinced that she was giving a futile order. She did not have even an atom of faith!
G. Francis Xavier in 'The World's best inspiring stories'

In today's gospel Jesus has two lessons to give us about living our lives in troubled times. Firstly he tells his disciples and us to grow and increase our faith in Him. The second message that Jesus gives us is that we should live our lives in humble service believing and trusting that God is at work and needs us to do our part in fulfilling His plan in the world today. To drive the message of faith he says: "If you had faith the size of a mustard seed, you could say to this mulberry tree, 'Be uprooted and planted in the sea and it would obey you!" What is the point Jesus is making? We know that a mulberry tree is known for its deep roots. And it is very difficult to uproot it. Besides how can you plant a tree in the sea? Evidently Jesus is telling us that what is impossible for us is not impossible for God. If we hold on in faith and let God take over our lives, the impossible will become possible for us. Just as the power of the seed does not depend on its size but on the hidden life within it, so the power of faith depends not on its quantity but on its quality. With faith we may not be able to literally move mountains, but we will have power to overcome obstacles, to do great things for the Lord in this world. The gospel concludes with a reminder that when all is said and done, God does not depend on our works but on our faith in Him. So when we are frustrated that things do not change in spite of our efforts, we must hold on and hand it over to God. God is at work, No matter how bleak the picture, God's power can and will, make it right.

I believe…
At the end of World War II, it is reported, the Allied soldiers were searching farm houses for snipers. In one abandoned house, which was almost a heap of rubble, they had to use their flashlights to get to the basement. On the crumbling wall, they spotted a Star of David.  It had obviously been scratched by a victim of the Jewish Holocaust. And beneath it was the following message in clear but rough lettering: "I believe in the sun -even when it does not shine.  I believe in love - even when it is not shown. I believe in God - even when he does not speak." -Like the Holocaust victim who had inscribed those uplifting words on the basement wall, Mother Teresa 'believed in the sun-even when it did not shine. She believed in love -even when it was not shown. And she believed in God -even when God did not speak. In her secret and personal letters Mother Teresa revealed that for almost 50 years, she went through what is best described as 'the dark night of the soul', driving her to doubt the existence of heaven and even God. Said a Jesuit priest, Fr. James Martin, "I have never read a saint's life where the saint has had such an intense spiritual darkness. No one knew she was that tormented." Like all of us, Mother Teresa was but human. And it is only natural that we, like her, will experience times of doubt, loneliness, dryness and even denial. Blessed are those who have not seen and yet believe!
James Valladares in 'Your Words O Lord, are Spirit, and They are Life'

Be careful in whom you place your trust!
Before modern radio and television became so sophisticated, a telephone operator used to get a call every afternoon asking for the correct time. She was always able to give this information with great confidence. The reason for this was that she always checked her watch, and adjusted it when needed, when the whistle blew for the closing time in the local factory. One day her watch stopped. The telephone rang inquiring for the correct time. She explained her predicament. Her watch had stopped, and she had no way of ascertaining the correct time until the factory whistle sounded some time later.  The caller then explained his predicament. He was calling today, as he had done every other day, from the same local factory, and he had always adjusted his clock, when necessary, to agree with whatever time it was in the telephone exchange. -Be careful in whom you place your trust!
Jack McArdle in 'And that's the Gospel truth'

Mustard-seed Faith
You have heard of Dorothy Day, a woman many considered a living saint. Many admirers came to visit her, to have a look at her, to cherish her, to speak to her, to touch her, if possible. Sometimes they would tell her, "You are a saint," or she would overhear others saying of her, "She is a saint." She would get upset, turn to the speaker, and say, "Don't say that. Don't make it too easy for yourself. Don't escape this way. I know why you are saying, 'she is a saint.' You say that to convince yourself that you are different from me, that I am different from you. I am not a saint. I am like you. You could do what I do. You don't need any more than you have; get kicking, please."  -A mustard seed is very tiny; there is a chance of losing it if it is not handled carefully. Likewise, faith; if it is not handled carefully there is a chance of losing it. We have to feed faith. Do not despise small beginnings, for the Lord rejoices to see the work begin. (Zachariah 4:10) Let us look at the Bible. Against a towering giant, a brook pebble seems futile. But God used it to topple Goliath. Compared to the tithes of the wealthy, a widow's coins seem puny. But Jesus used them to inspire us. Moses had a staff. David had a sling. Samson had a jawbone. Rahab had a string. Mary had some ointment. Dorcas had a needle. All were used by God.
John Pichappilly in 'The Table of the Word'

Pavarotti: My Own Story
Not since the legendary Caruso has another opera personality had such charisma as tenor Luciano Pavarotti. In his autobiography, Pavarotti: My Own Story, he describes how he was trained by a great master, Arrigo Pola. "Everything Pola asked me to do, I did, -day after day, blindly. For six months we did nothing but vocalize and work on vowels." Pavarotti worked hard under Pola for two and a half years and then worked just as hard under Maestro Ettore Campogalliani for another five years. Finally after putting so much faith and trust in his mentors, Pavarotti made a breakthrough at a concert in Salsomaggiore where he thrilled the audience and was catapulted into fame. This story about faith and trust leads us into today's readings which focus on the same themes. As Luciano Pavarotti put his trust in his master teacher, we too must put our trust in our mentor Jesus Christ.
Albert Cylwicki in 'His Word Resounds'