Sunday, October 24, 2010

Just Finish

"I have competed well; I have finished the race."

That's what St. Paul told Timothy in his second letter to him (2 Tim 4:7 - today's reading).

Many believe St. Paul knew his death was imminent when he wrote this letter, which would make it somewhat of a last will or final message to his closest friend (and all of us!).   

To me, it's a great reminder that our life on this Earth is a constant competition - that we are always engaged in spiritual battle.  A battle that Pope John Paul II described as "an invisible struggle in which we engage every day against temptations." 

It's so easy to forget that - especially in a world with so many physical, Earthly distractions.   But unfortunately, forgetting that there is a competition going on is the equivalent of joining the other team. 

Luckily, we don't need to be beaten, hunted, or chained in prison like St. Paul to make it to Paradise.  In fact, as he notes, we don't even need to win the race.  

Christ already did that for us.

We just need to finish.  

God Bless.

Monday, October 18, 2010

"My Son Died for You. Don't You Even Care?"

The following is from Matthew Kelly (author of Rediscovering Catholicism).

I've come across it multiple times now, and it's so good, I thought I would share it with all of you.  

It's a very quick read, and really puts God's sacrifice into a modern day example. 
(reminds me of something our friend Victor would write...)  

A great reflection piece. 

God Bless.


You're driving home from work next Monday after a long day. You tune in your radio. You hear a blurb about a little village in India where some villagers have died suddenly, strangely, of a flu that has never been seen before. It's not influenza, but three or four people are dead, and it's kind of interesting, and they are sending some doctors over there to investigate it. You don't think much about it, but coming home from church on Sunday you hear another radio spot. Only they say it's not three villagers, it's 30,000 villagers in the back hills of this particular area of India, and it's on TV that night. CNN runs a little blurb: people are heading there from the disease center in Atlanta because this disease strain has never been seen before.

By Monday morning when you get up, it's the lead story. It's not just India; it's Pakistan, Afghanistan, Iran, and before you know it, you're hearing this story everywhere, and they have now coined it as "the mystery flu." The President has made some comment that he and his family are praying and hoping that all will go well over there. But everyone is wondering, "How are we going to contain it?"

That's when the President of France makes an announcement that shocks Europe. He is closing their borders. No flights from India, Pakistan, or any of the countries where this thing has been seen. And that's why that night you are watching a little bit of CNN before going to bed. Your jaw hits your chest when a weeping woman is translated in English from a French news program. There's a man lying in a hospital in Paris, dying of the mystery flu. It has come to Europe.

Panic strikes. As best they can tell, after contracting the disease, you have it for a week before you even know it. Then you have four days of unbelievable symptoms. And then you die. Britain closes its borders, but it's too late. South Hampton, Liverpool, North Hampton, and it's Tuesday morning when the President of the United States makes the following announcement: "Due to a national-security risk, all flights to and from Europe and Asia have been canceled. If your loved ones are overseas, I'm sorry. They cannot come back until we find a cure for this thing."

Within four days, our nation has been plunged into an unbelievable fear. People are wondering, "What if it comes to this country?" And preachers on Tuesday are saying it's the scourge of God. It's Wednesday night, and you are at a church prayer meeting when somebody runs in from the parking lot and yells, "Turn on a radio, turn on a radio!" And while everyone in church listens to a little transistor radio with a microphone stuck up to it, the announcement is made. Two women are lying, in a Long Island hospital, dying from the mystery flu. Within hours it seems, the disease envelopes the country.

People are working around the clock, trying to find an antidote. Nothing is working. California, Oregon, Arizona, Florida, Massachusetts. It's as though it's just sweeping in from the borders.

And then all of a sudden the news comes out. The code has been broken. A cure can be found. A vaccine can be made. It's going to take the blood of somebody who hasn't been infected, and so, sure enough, all through the Midwest, through all those channels of emergency broadcasting, everyone is asked to do one simple thing: Go to your downtown hospital and have your blood analyzed. That's all we ask of you. When you hear the sirens go off in your neighborhood, please make your way quickly, quietly, and safely to the hospitals.

Sure enough, when you and your family get down there late on that Friday night, there is a long line, and they've got nurses and doctors coming out and pricking fingers and taking blood and putting labels on it. Your spouse and your kids are out there, and they take your blood and say, "Wait here in the parking lot, and if we call your name, you can be dismissed and go home." You stand around, scared, with your neighbors, wondering what on earth is going on, and if this is the end of the world.

Suddenly, a young man comes running out of the hospital screaming. He's yelling a name and waving a clipboard. What? He yells it again! And your son tugs on your jacket and says, "Daddy, that's me." Before you know it, they have grabbed your boy. "Wait a minute. Hold on!" And they say, "It's okay, his blood is clean. His blood is pure. We want to make sure he doesn't have the disease. We think he has the right blood type."

Five tense minutes later, out come the doctors and nurses crying and hugging one another-some are even laughing. It's the first time you have seen anybody laugh in a week, and an old doctor walks up to you and says, "Thank you, sir. Your son's blood is perfect. It's clean, it is pure, and we can make the vaccine."

You begin to sign, and then you see that the box for the number of pints of blood to be taken is empty. "H-h-h-how many pints?" And that is when the old doctor's smile fades, and he says, "We had no idea it would be a little child. We weren't prepared. We need it all!"

"But...but...I don't understand. He's my only son!" 

"We are talking about the whole world here. Please sign. We...we...need to hurry!"

"But can't you give him a transfusion?" 

"If we had clean blood we would. Please, will you please sign?" 

In numb silence you do. Then they say, "Would you like to have a moment with him before we begin?"

Could you walk back? Could you walk back to that room where he sits on a table saying, "Daddy? Mommy? What's going on?" Could you take his hands and say, "Son, your mommy and I love you, and we would never, ever let anything happen to you that didn't just have to be! Do you understand that?" And when that old doctor comes back in and says, "I'm sorry, we've got to get started. People all over the world are dying," could you leave? Could you walk out while he is saying, "Dad? Mom? Dad? Why...why have you abandoned me?"

And then next week, when they have the ceremony to honor your son, and some folks sleep through it, and some folks don't even bother to come because they have better things to do, and some folks come with a pretentious smile and just pretend to care, would you want to jump up and say, "EXCUSE ME! MY SON DIED FOR YOU! DON'T YOU EVEN CARE? DOES IT MEAN NOTHING TO YOU?"

I wonder, is that what God wants to say? "MY SON DIED FOR YOU! DOES IT MEAN NOTHING? DON'T YOU KNOW HOW MUCH I CARE?"

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Couldn't Have Said it Better Abe

Abraham Lincoln reportedly once said:

Sir, my concern is not whether God is on our side.  
My greatest concern is to be on God's side, for God is always right.

What great perspective for all of us.  

God Bless.

Sunday, October 3, 2010

There He Goes; Here He Is

Then I will remove my hand, and you will see my back; but my face must not be seen.
(Exodus 33:23)

This statement from God to Moses reminds me of the famous Footprints poem.  

We really don't see God coming at us.  He doesn't appear like Superman.  He doesn't announce His arrival.  And often, His plan is not the same as ours.  

Rather, we see Him clearest when we look back.  When we realize that He was there in a situation we thought He avoided.   When we understand that He held us and guided us during life's obstacles and difficulties.

The truth is, He will never abandon us.  

As He tells Joshua (1:9)
For the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go 

May the Lord be with, and Bless, all of you.