AD SENSE

30 Sunday A

1.     Fr. Tony Kadavil

The inspiring five word sermon:

There is a legend handed down from the early Church about John, the beloved disciple of Jesus. Of the twelve original apostles, only John is said to have lived to a ripe old age. In his later years, not only his body but also his eyesight and his mind began to fail him. Eventually, according to the legend, John's mind had deteriorated to the point that he could only speak five words, one sentence which he would repeat over and over. You can imagine the high regard in which the early Church must have held the last surviving apostle of Jesus. The legend says that every Lord's Day, John would be carried into the midst of the congregation that had assembled for worship in the Church at Ephesus, where John spent the last years of his life. Total silence would fall over the congregation, even though they already knew what John was going to say. Then the old man would speak the words, "My children, love one another." Over and over, he would repeat them until he grew tired from talking, and no one yawned or looked at his watch or gazed off into space absentmindedly. They listened as John preached his five-word sermon over and over: "My children, love one another."

“Christians love one another.”

 In the second century AD, a non-Christian named Aristides wrote to the Emperor Hadrian about the Christians.  He said “Christians love one another.  They never fail to help widows; they save orphans from those who would hurt them.  If one of them has something, he gives freely to those who have nothing.  If they see a stranger, Christians take him home and are as happy as though he were a real brother.  They don’t consider themselves brothers in the usual sense, but brothers through the Spirit, in God.  And if they hear that one of them is in jail or persecuted for professing the name of their Redeemer, they give him all he needs.  This is really a new kind of person.  There is something Divine in them.”  No wonder the non-Christians of the first century used tell one another, “See how those Christians love one another.”

Love them anyway:

In Calcutta, India, there is a children’s home named Shishu Bhavan (Children’s Home), founded by Mother Teresa.  The home continues to be operated by her community, the Missionaries of Charity.  On the wall of the home hangs a sign which reads:

People are unreasonable, illogical, and self-centered.
LOVE THEM ANYWAY
If you do good, people will accuse you of selfish ulterior motives,
DO GOOD ANYWAY
If you are successful, you win false friends and true enemies,
SUCCEED ANYWAY
The good you do will be forgotten tomorrow,
DO GOOD ANYWAY
Honesty and frankness make you vulnerable,
BE HONEST AND FRANK ANYWAY
What you spent years building may be destroyed overnight,
BUILD ANYWAY
People really need help but may attack you if you help them,
HELP PEOPLE ANYWAY
Give the world the best you have and you’ll get kicked in the teeth,
GIVE THE WORLD THE BEST YOU’VE GOT ANYWAY 

Mother Teresa counsels her young charges that the challenges offered by this sign can be met only if human beings are motivated by a love and a respect for one another which looks beyond faults, differences, ulterior motives, success and failure.  Mother Teresa once said of herself, “By blood and origin, I am all Albanian.  My citizenship is Indian.  I am a Catholic nun.  As to my calling, I belong to the whole world.  As to my heart, I belong entirely to the heart of Jesus.”  (A Simple Path, Ballantine Books, New York: 1995).  It is this relationship of belonging and the loving service which grows out of that belonging which the Scriptural authors called Covenant. (Patricia Datchuck S├ínchez) 

2.     Fr. Jude Botelho 

The first reading from the book of Exodus reminded the people of their obligations towards others, especially the widow, the stranger and the orphan. The time of the exile was definitely a very painful and dark part of the history of the people of Israel, during which they experienced what it meant to be weak and dependant on others. Times were better now but they were asked not to forget what they themselves had undergone and be sensitive to the needs of the foreigners among them, the homeless, the helpless and the dependant. Having felt the pain of injustice and oppression themselves, they must never inflict pain on others. The health of a community can be measured by the way it treats such people.

 “I have broken the commandment of men…”

In the time of the desert monks, there was an abbot by the name of Moses who had a great reputation for holiness. Easter was approaching, so the monks met and decided to fast the entire length of Holy Week. Having come to this decision, each monk went off to his cell, to fast and pray. However, about the middle of the week, two wandering monks came to visit the cell of Abbot Moses. Seeing that they were starving, he cooked a little vegetable stew for them. To make them feel at ease he took a little of it himself. Meanwhile the other monks had seen the smoke rising from the abbot’s cell. It could mean only one thing –he had lit a fire to cook some food. In other words, he had broken the solemn fast. They were shocked. And in the eyes of many of them, he fell from his pinnacle of sanctity. In a body they went over to confront him. Seeing judgement in their eyes, he asked, “What crime have I committed that makes you look at me like this?” “You’ve broken the solemn fast,” they answered. “So I have,” he replied. “I have broken the commandment of men, but in sharing my food with these brothers of ours, I have kept the commandment of God, that we should love one another.” On hearing this, the monks grew silent, and went away humbled and wiser.

Flor McCarthy in ‘New Sunday and Holy Day Liturgies’ 

In the Gospel Jesus is asked the question: “Master, which is the greatest commandment of the law?” Jesus’ answer is plain and simple. “You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the greatest and the first commandment.” He adds: “The second resembles it: You must love your neighbour as yourself.” What is absolutely certain is that God has to be the top priority of our life. Our lives make sense only when He has the first place. Yet it is a fact that so often God has second place. When we make important decisions about our life do we take into account what God would say about it? The way we structure our time, our energy, our efforts, our lifestyle, all these are realistic indicators pointing to what has priority in our life. The special focus of the Gospel is the fact that Jesus reminds us that the second law is just as important as the first: “You should love your neighbour as yourself.” If I do not love the neighbour whom I can see how can I say I love God? Love is seen in our attitude and actions towards our neighbour. The challenge is to love others just as much as we love ourselves. We all know how we take care of our own needs and wants. When there are decisions to be made is our main consideration: “What’s in it for me?” or “How will my decision/action or inaction affect others?” The yardstick of our action should always be: “In every situation is this action of mine the most loving thing?”

Greater love than this...

 There was an article written in Time magazine years ago, when an airplane suddenly crashed into the sea. The writer claimed that it was one of America’s worst tragedies because of the large number of lives that were lost. It was also America’s hour of heroism. Immediately on hearing of the crash, several rescue operations were set into motion and the rescue workers, saved many survivors. There were several heroes who distinguished themselves that day by their life-saving action. The first heroes were the rescue workers, and when they were later interviewed on TV, they were asked one question: “Why did you risk your life?” They said that it was their job, and they were expected to do. These rescue workers perhaps symbolize people who will do things if it is their job. “If it is not my job then I will not lift a finger to help”. The second hero was one of the passengers, who was rescued and was being taken to the lifeboats.  He noticed a lady drowning, dived into the waters, and pulled her to the safety of the lifeboat. When asked later why he had risked his life he replied: “She called out to me and asked for help so I had to help.” The hero could perhaps represent people who will do things if they are asked. “If you want my help, ask for it!” The third hero was also one of the passengers of the ill-fated plane. After the tragedy struck, he found himself floating among the debris. Fortunately, one of the rescue helicopters noticed him and lowered a halter, which he grabbed and held on to. He could easily have saved himself but he saw a young lady drowning and he quickly put the halter around her and the helicopter was able to rescue her. Soon the helicopter came again and once again the man grabbed the lifeline. Instead of helping himself, he looked around and noticed another old lady struggling and got the halter around her and she was rescued. Six times the man had a chance to save himself but six times he gave the lifeline to another, whom he felt had a greater need. The seventh time when the helicopter came to the spot where the man had been floating, he was gone! History will never know who exactly this heroic passenger was, but he symbolized what Christ meant when he said: “Greater love than this no man has, than that he lays down his life for a friend!”

Film: Father Damien: The Leper Priest

Father Damien: The Leper Priest is a movie made for television. The program dramatizes the story of Fr. Damien who came from Belgian to the Hawaiian island of Molokai in 1873 to serve the lepers there until he too contracted leprosy and died in 1889. At that time in history, the colony of Molokai was a dumping ground for lepers and it was like a death sentence to be put there. There was little law and order, medical help and supplies were non-existent, and housing and sanitation were so bad that the island seemed like a sewer. At first Fr. Damien found the lepers repulsive. But as he suffered with them, struggled with them and served them, he overcame his revulsion towards the lepers and developed deep feelings of love for them. Fr. Damien dedicated almost two decades of his life to the lepers because he believed that in doing so he was demonstrating both his love for God and for his neighbour.

Albert Cylwicki in ‘His Word Resounds’ 

On Hospitality

 A man attending a crowded church service refused to take his hat off when asked to do so by the ushers. The preacher was perturbed too, and after the service told the man that the church was quite happy to have him as guest, and invited him to join the church, but he explained the traditional decorum regarding men’s hats and said, “I hope you will confirm to that practice in the future.” “Thank you,” said the man. “And thank you for taking time to talk to me. It was good of you to ask me to join the congregation. In fact, I joined it three years ago and have been coming regularly ever since, but today is the first day anyone ever paid attention to me. After being an unknown for three years, today, by simply keeping on my hat, I had the pleasure of talking to the ushers. And now I have a conversation with you, who have always appeared too busy to talk to me before!” –What do we do to make strangers welcome? Are we too busy?

Anonymous

Are you related to Him?

 Just before Christmas, there was a boy wandering through a shopping complex. He was admiring the colourful display of Christmas gifts. A lady closely watched him moving from one shop to another. Realizing the poverty of the boy, she took him inside the shop and showed him the Christmas tree and explained to him the meaning of Christmas. “God loves us” she said, and so to save us from our sins, he was born in a manger as a little babe.” Then she bought him a pair of new clothes and shoes, along with some Christmas gifts and a candy and some refreshments. The little boy was thrilled. As she led him out of the shop, he looked at her and asked, “Are you God?” “No” she replied, “I am only one of his children.” “Ah!” said the boy, “I knew that you were somehow related to him.”

John Rose in ‘John’s Sunday Homilies’

Love is Sacrifice

 God-Jesus is love. Jesus’ bent body to wash feet and bloody body, crucified, are supreme symbols of love. Champaben, a poor tribal widow of Kanaghat village, south Gujarat, taught me quite literally what ‘mad love’ is all about. Her teenage son Manoj, is severely mentally handicapped. To allow her to care for her two small daughters, we had Manoj into an institution for mentally challenged. A day later Champaben returned, weeping, “Father, I’m sorry! I can’t live without my Manoj. Please bring him back!” And to this day, despite Manoj’s violent behaviour and screams, Champaben lovingly cares for him. Love is service and sacrifice.

Francis Gonsalves in ‘Sunday Seeds for Gospel Deeds’ 

Topping the List

 There is an immortal song written by an English poet, Leigh Hunt about a man named Abou Ben Adhem. Abou Ben Adhem woke from his sleep one night and saw in his room an angel writing in a book of gold the names of those who love God. “Is my name one of those in your book?” inquired Abou. “No, Not so,” replied the angel. “I pray you, then,” said Abou, “Write me as one who loves God’s fellowmen.” The following day the angel came again and displayed the names of those who love God, and Abou Ben Adhem’s name topped the list. This story makes the point that true love of God and true love of our fellowmen are two sides of the same coin. One cannot exist apart from the other. That is what we find in today’s gospel.

John Pichappilly in ‘The Table of the Word’ 

In all things may love be the guiding light of our lives! 

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3.     Sermons.com 

Isidor Isaac Rabi, a Nobel Prize winner in Physics, and one of the developers of the atomic bomb, was once asked how he became a scientist. Rabi replied that every day after school his mother would talk to him about his school day. She wasn't so much interested in what he had learned that day, but how he conducted himself in his studies. She always inquired, "Did you ask a good question today?"

"Asking good questions," Rabi said, "made me become a scientist."

In order to ask a good question I think you need to have noble motives behind the question. You have to want to know the truth. The Pharisees, by contrast, already had the answers to their questions. They felt they already knew the truth. How many times have we had it in for someone, asking a question designed to trap them? We do it to our loved ones all the time. In a moment like this we are not trying to learn; we are trying to injure.
The Pharisees come to Jesus once again with a question designed to do damage to the reputation of Jesus. And once again Jesus proves he is equal to the task. Teacher, which commandment in the law is the greatest? Now, even though this question was used to test Jesus, it is nonetheless an important question. Perhaps in the life of Israel at that time it was THE most important question. But Jesus had a question of his own. A question, which signified that the times were changing; a new theological season had come. He put this question to the same Pharisees who had tested him: "What do you think of the Messiah. Whose son is he?"

These were the two most important questions of that era and my friends they are the two most important questions of our time. Let us consider... 

1. Which Commandment Is the Greatest?
2. What Do You Think of the Messiah? 

Last week we spoke of the power of "first impressions." From a chronological standpoint, Paul's "First Letter to the Thessalonians" was his first written words that have come down to us. It is the "first impression" of a life of Jesus discipleship written in the New Testament.  

In this week's gospel text from Matthew, we have a kind of closing bracket to that "first impression," a bookend "final impression," a last word from Jesus to the various Temple authorities. We have the third and final confrontation with those whom Jesus encountered as soon as he entered Jerusalem for his final visit into the Temple in Jerusalem.  

His first encounter was with the Herodians (who were egged on by the Pharisees) when he was grilled about the question of paying taxes to Rome.  

His second encounter was with the Sadduccees where his views on resurrection and eternal life were sized up and audited.  

Now in this third encounter Jesus is confronted by what appears to be an organized, formal assembly of Pharisees. These were those Jewish authorities who were most devoted to imbedding the force and focus of written Torah law into the fabric of every jot and tittle of everyday life. 

The Pharisees had cataloged a list of 613 commandments or laws, which all faithful Jews should follow. But these 613 laws were also divided into those that were "weighty" and those that were "light."  "Thou shalt not commit murder" was one of the "Big Ten." Written by the hand of God on stone at Sinai, this commandment was definitely weighty. Making a fire on the Sabbath, striking up some firelight, that was definitely "light," and in an emergency, absolutely expendable. The Pharisees' question to Jesus was tried to get him to name which of the most "weighty" commandments were the "hefty, hefty, hefty" ones. What commandment was #1, the big boss with the hot sauce. 

Jesus' response was his "final word," his "last impression" in this series of Temple confrontations... 
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 Two Hands 

Lewis L. Austin, in This I Believe, wrote: "Our maker gave us two hands. One to hold onto him and one to reach out to his people. If our hands are full of struggling to get possessions, we can't hang onto God or to others very well. If, however, we hold onto God, who gave us our lives, then his love can flow through us and out to our neighbor." 

Lewis L. Austin, This I Believe
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 Staying in Line 

At the entrance to the harbor at the Isle of Man there are two lights. One would think that the two signals would confuse the pilot. But the fact is, he has to keep them in line; as long as he keeps them in line, his ship is safe. It is the same with these commands of Jesus: love of self, the love of God, and love others. When we keep them in line, we remain safe and well in the channel of the Christian life.

 Jerry L. Schmalemberger, When Christians Quarrel, CSS Publishing Co., Inc. 
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 Give It to Me in a Nutshell 

"Give it to me in a nutshell" -- an old saying -- it means, Tell me what I need to know, but keep it short. Don't bother me with unnecessary detail. Don't bore me with a long, technical explanation. Just get to the bottom line.

We like things short and sweet. Network television news has time only to hit the high spots and to show us a few pictures, but it gives us the big picture in a few minutes. We like that.

I used to have to sit through weekly staff meetings. Sometimes they would go on for two hours, because everyone wanted to have their say. Then we got a new boss who limited each of us to one overhead slide. Each slide had about ten lines, so each person could show us the status of ten programs -- max. We had to code each program green, yellow, or red. Green meant that everything was o.k. Yellow meant that there was a problem. Red meant, "The sky is falling!" Furthermore, we weren't to ramble. Stand up! Speak up! Shut up! Sit down! I loved it, because we got through the meetings quickly, and I could get back to work.

Give it to me in a nutshell!

That's what the lawyer said to Jesus -- Give it to me in a nutshell. At least, we think that's what he meant. "Teacher, which commandment in the law is the greatest? Do you know, or should I call Pew Research?"

Richard Niell Donovan, In a Nutshell
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 Love is not blind. Love is the only thing that sees. 

Frank Crane
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 The Right Kind of Devotion 

In order that we may know how to love ourselves, an end has been established for us to which we are to refer all our action, so that we may attain to bliss. For if we love ourselves, our one wish is to achieve blessedness. Now this end is to cling to God. Thus, if we know how to love ourselves, the commandant to love our neighbor bids us to do all we can to bring our neighbor to love God. This is the worship of God; this is true religion; this is the right kind of devotion; this is the service which is owed to God alone. 

Augustine, City of God
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 The Love That Conquers the World

 The love for equals is a human thing -- of friend for friend, brother for brother. It is to love what is loving and lovely. The world smiles.

The love for the less fortunate is a beautiful thing--the love for those who suffer, for those who are poor, the sick, the failures, the unlovely. This is compassion, and it touches the heart of the world.


The love for the more fortunate is a rare thing--to love those who succeed where we fail, to rejoice without envy with those who rejoice, the love of the poor for the rich, of the black man for the white man. The world is always bewildered by its saints. 

And then there is the love for the enemy--love for the one who does not love you but mocks, threatens, and inflicts pain. The tortured's love for the torturer. This is God's love. It conquers the world.
 Frederick Buechner, The Magnificent Defeat
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 Just a Person Across the Way 

Edgar Guest, a renowned American poet at the turn of the century, tells of a neighbor by the name of Jim Potter. Mr. Potter ran the drug store in the small town where Edgar Guest lived. Guest recalled that daily he would pass his neighbor and how they would smile and exchange greetings. But it was a mere casual relationship. 

Then came that tragic night in the life of Edgar Guest when his first born child died. He felt lonely and defeated. These were grim days for him and he was overcome with grief. Several days later Guest had reason to go to the drug store run by his neighbor, and when he entered Jim Potter motioned for him to come behind the counter. "Eddie," he said, "I really can't express to you the great sympathy that I have for you at this time. All I can say is that I am terribly sorry, and if you need for me to do anything, you can count on me." 

Many years later Edgar Guest wrote of that encounter in one of his books. This is how he worded it: "Just a person across the way -- a passing acquaintance. Jim Potter may have long since forgotten that moment when he extended his hand to me in sympathy, but I shall never forget it -- never in all my life. To me it stands out like the silhouette of a lonely tree against a crimson sunset." 

[Suggestion for follow-up on this story]

 I have wondered how it is that I want people to remember me when

I come to end of my life's journey. 

[Name some accomplishments followed by]

But I really don't care if someone remembers me for that. I really don't. 

I do hope that people are able to say of me at the end of my life's pilgrimage: When we were sick he came to us; when we needed help, he was there; when I was down, he lifted me up. In short, I hope that my ministry is remembered for simple acts of kindness. For if that is the case, then my life would have been worth it and I might have come close to fulfilling the greatest commandment in life: Love God and love your neighbor. 

Brett Blair, www.Sermons.com
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 Love Is More than We Can See

A man once observed a young boy out in a field flying a kite. He noticed that there was something odd about the way the boy was standing and holding on to the string. He walked up to the boy and then learned that the boy was blind. He said, "Do you like flying kites?"

The boy said, "I sure do."

This piqued the man's curiosity and he asked, "How is that when you cannot see it?"

The boy answered, "I may not be able to see it but I can feel it tugging'!"

We may not always be able to identify the love of God in this world. Like the little boy, we may not be able to see love but it has a tug that lets us know it is there. 

Brett Blair, www.Sermons.com
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 "By loving the unlovable, You made me lovable." 

Augustine to God
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 Chip It Away! 

There is a story about a man who had a huge boulder in his front yard. He grew weary of this big, unattractive stone in the center of his lawn, so he decided to take advantage of it and turn it into an object of art. He went to work on it with hammer and chisel, and chipped away at the huge boulder until it became a beautiful stone elephant. When he finished, it was gorgeous, breath-taking. 

A neighbor asked, "How did you ever carve such a marvelous likeness of an elephant?"
The man answered, "I just chipped away everything that didn't look like an elephant!" 

If you have anything in your life right now that doesn't look like love, then, with the help of God, chip it away! If you have anything in your life that doesn't look like compassion or mercy or empathy, then, with the help of God, chip it away! If you have hatred or prejudice or vengeance or envy in your heart, for God's sake, and the for the other person's sake, and for your sake, get rid of it! Let God chip everything out of your life that doesn't look like tenderheartedness.

29 Sunday A

1.     Fr. Jude Botelho 

a.     Secular Messiahs

Dag Hammarskjold was Secretary-General of the UN. When he died in a plane crash in central Africa in 1961 at the age of 66, the world lost a great servant of peace. He was a rare person for whom public service was not simply a career or means of achieving power, but a religious vocation, a way of being faithful to God. He said: “Indifference to evil is worse than evil itself and in a free society, some are guilty, but all are responsible.” –Gandhi is another example of a deeply religious man who involved himself in politics. He said: “I am in politics because I cannot separate life from belief. Because I believe in God I have to enter politics. Politics is my service to God.” Nelson Mandela is yet another example of how God uses all kinds of people, not necessarily religious, to lead people to God. Mandela tells us how, when he began to get interested in politics, a friend tried to warn him off saying, “Politics brings out the worst in people. It is the source of trouble and corruption, and should be avoided at all costs.” Fortunately, for South Africa and the world, Mandela ignored his advice.

Flor McCarthy in ‘New Sunday and Holy Day Liturgies’ 

In today’s gospel the Pharisees bring the issue of paying taxes to the Romans for Jesus’ opinion on the matter. “Is it permissible to pay taxes or not?” The overt question is whether it is proper to pay taxes to the government, but there is a hidden agenda that Jesus is well aware of. Whichever way Jesus answered the question would trap him. If he said taxes had to be paid to Rome the people would be against him and if he said the opposite he would be seen as fomenting rebellion against the authorities. Jesus completely side steps the issue by asking for a coin with which the taxes were to be paid. This coin bore the image of Caesar and an inscription proclaiming his authority. Jesus simply says, “Give to Caesar what belongs to Caesar, and to God what belongs to God.” Jesus is not entering into a discussion of the rights of the state and the rights of religion; but on the occasion of the question he proposes a deeper truth. What matters more to Jesus than being under Caesar’s rule and paying taxes, is belonging to God’s kingdom. Jesus is reminding his listeners of a deeper issue, that of being people of God. If they belong to God then they have to give God his due. God has to be the most important priority in their lives. What they owe to God is far more important than what they owe to anyone else. It is easy to remember what we owe to our fellow men but we can forget what we owe to God. The ideal Christian is one who fulfils his duty both to his fellowmen and to God. Only when there is a clash of interests do we have to remind ourselves that God always comes first. Besides God, Christians have a duty towards their fellow men. Christians should not shirk public office but see it as an opportunity to serve their fellowmen. 

b.     I love my country but there is a higher authority, God!

Franz Jaggerstatter was born in Austria and was brought up a Catholic. He was an ordinary, unremarkable young man, however at some stage he suddenly matured. He became very responsible and began to take religion seriously. By this time the Second World War was raging. At thirty-six he was called up to serve Hitler’s army. He refused to join up. “I cannot join because I believe that this war is not a just war. Therefore it would be wrong for me to join up. It would be against my conscience.” He said. “But where’s your loyalty to your people, to your country, to your flag?” his friends protested. “Franz replied, “I love my people and I love my country. But there’s a higher law–God’s law. And God’s law tells me that this war is wrong.” It wasn’t that he wanted to die. He had a lot to live for -his family and friends. He was arrested and put into prison. Then further efforts were made to get him to change his mind. Even his wife begged him to reconsider his decision. But all to no avail. Franz was beheaded on August 9, 1943. He felt he was obeying the words of Christ: “Give to Caesar what belongs to Caesar and to God what belongs to God.”

Flor McCarthy in ‘New Sunday & Holy day Liturgies’ 

It is hoped that our double citizenship of being citizens of two worlds, the material and spiritual, never clash. If they ever do, the Christian must resolve the conflict as St. Thomas More, the martyr did. King Henry VIII was validly married to Catherine of Aragon. He appealed to Rome to annul the marriage so he could marry Ann. Rome refused. Henry cut off allegiance to the Pope and declared himself ‘The only supreme head of the Church of England.’ He ordered his friends and officials to sign a document declaring that they agreed he acted rightly. Many signed but Thomas More his friend and Lord Chancellor refused. He was put in prison for 15 months and finally executed. His last words were “I am the King’s good servant but God’s first.”

Anonymous 

c.     Doing your Duty!!

We all laugh at the reputed story of Pat Murray at the Battle of Trafalgar, whose version of the Battle was as follows: “Lord Nelson came on deck and said ‘Is Pat Murray on board?’ And I said ‘Here I am, me Lord.’ Then said his lordship, ‘Let the battle proceed.’ And yet, while this was written for a joke, there is more to it than we are apt to think. For had it not been for the Pat Murrays, or John Joneses or Tom Smiths and others who were on hand doing their duty, there would have been no victories for the Nelsons, Wellingtons, Napoleons or Grants, who now live in history as great commanders.

A.W. Graham in ‘More Quotes and Anecdotes’ 

d.     Spiritual Foundations

The Great Wall of China was a gigantic structure, costing immense expenditure and labour, and when finished it seemed a superb way to gain security; but within a few years of its building it was breached three times by the enemy. Only note, it was breached, not by breaking down the wall but by bribing the gate-keepers. It was the human element that failed; what collapsed was character, proving insufficient the task to make the great structure men had built really work. A like fate awaits all those who, absorbed in political tasks, forget the spiritual foundation.

Anthony P. Castle in ‘More Quotes and Anecdotes’

e.     What will you give me?

There was once a prince and his family. When they were brought before him, King Cyrus asked the captured prince: “What will you give me if I release you?” “Half of my wealth.” “And if I release your children?” “Everything I possess.” “And If I release your wife?” “Your majesty, I will give you myself.” Cyrus was so greatly moved by his devotion that he freed them all. As they returned home the prince said to his wife, “Wasn’t Cyrus a handsome man!” With a look of deep love for her husband, she said to him, “I didn’t notice. I could keep my eyes only on you my husband–the one who was willing to give himself for me.” (John Pichapilly in ‘The Table of the Word’) 

f.      Give back to God...

Theologian Jon Sobrino published a book “Spirituality of Liberation: Towards Political Holiness.” A political holiness is what the church badly needs. I sense that we have too much of ‘Church Politics’ and too little of a ‘political Church.’ There’s politicking present in demands for ecclesiastical appointments, but hardly any interest in burning issues facing society and the Church. The current issue of granting concessions to Dalit-Christians (former untouchables) in India is significant. Is this a political or a religious question? I frame the question differently: “Is there anything which is not political? Or anything which is not religious?” Evidently, everything belongs to God. Let us give back to God even what belongs to Caesar!

Francis Gonsalves in ‘Sunday Seeds for Gospel Deeds’ 

2.     From Fr. Tony Kadavil: 

a.     “I die the King’s good servant, but God’s first.”

Perhaps we can illustrate all this with one case, that of St. Thomas More, the English martyr, Robert Bolt dramatized More’s conflict – regarding what is Caesar’s and what is God’s –  in the drama A Man for All Seasons. Recall the story. King Henry VIII of England is validly married. He appeals to Rome to annual the marriage. But there is no honest basis for annulment. Rome refuses. Henry takes matters into his own hands, declares himself Head of the Church in England and remarries. He then orders his friends and officials to sign a document declaring that they agree he acted rightly in the matter. Many of More’s friends sign, but More refuses. Henry demands that he sign or face arrest, trial for treason, and execution by the state. More refuses. He had two obligations, one to God and one to his country. When they conflicted, More had no choice but to remain faithful to his obligation to God. On his way to public execution in 1534, More encouraged the people to remain steadfast in the faith. His last recorded words were: “I die the King’s good servant, but God’s first.” Today’s Gospel reminds us of our dual citizenship. We are citizens of the world and citizens of Heaven. We have an allegiance and an obligation to each. We hope the obligations will never clash. But if they ever do, we must resolve them as Thomas More did, without compromise to our God or to our conscience. (Mark Link in Sunday Homilies; quoted by Fr. Botelho). 

b.     Caesar and God:

In his Inaugural Address on January 20, 1961, John F. Kennedy, the newly-elected President of the United States, made the famous statement: "My fellow Americans, ask not what your country can do for you; ask what you can do for your country.  My fellow citizens of the world, ask not what America will do for you, but what together we can do for the freedom of man. Finally, whether you are citizens of America or citizens of the world, ask of us here the same high standards of strength and sacrifice which we ask of you.  With a good conscience our only sure reward, with history the final judge of our deeds, let us go forth to lead the land we love, asking God’s blessing and His help, but knowing that here on earth God’s work must truly be our own.”  If we personalized Kennedy’s statement it would read, “Don’t ask, ‘What can my country do for me?’  Instead ask, ‘What can I do for my country?’”  And add, “Don’t ask, ‘What can God do for me?’  Instead ask, ‘What can I do for God?’”  Today’s Gospel lesson gives the correct answer.

c.     Honesty and Trigonometry:  

Dr. Madison Sarratt taught Mathematics at Vanderbilt University for many years.  Before giving a test, the professor would admonish his class, “Today I am giving two examinations—one in trigonometry and the other in honesty.  I hope you will pass them both, fulfilling your obligations to your teacher and to your God.  If you fail, fail for trigonometry.  There are many good people in the world who can’t pass trigonometry, but there are not many   people in the world who cannot pass the examination of honesty the debt we owe to God.” This piece if advice sounds like what Jesus said in today’s Gospel: "Give back to Caesar what belongs to Caesar -- and to God what belongs to God." 

4.  From Sermons.com


 

a.     A little lad with a quarter

A young lady was soaking up the sun's rays on a Florida beach when a little boy in his swimming trunks, carrying a towel, came up to her and asked her, "Do you believe in God?" She was surprised by the question but she replied, "Why, yes, I do." Then he asked her: "Do you go to church every Sunday?" Again, her answer was "Yes!" He then asked: "Do you read your Bible and pray every day?" Again she said, "Yes!" By now her curiosity was very much aroused. The little lad sighed with relief and said, "Will you hold my quarter while I go in swimming?"

The little boy was straightforward and honest in his questions because he wanted to entrust to the lady something valuable. The Pharisees are not being honest. They have no intent in entrusting Jesus with anything. They are not looking for the answer to a question. They don't want someone to hold their quarter. They are looking for a way to get rid of this trouble making Nazarene named Jesus.

The Pharisees were so angry it blinded them. Think for a moment about the ironies here: We know, because we live on this side of the resurrection, that Jesus was God. They thought he was demonic, an agent of Satan. We know that Jesus is the King of kings. They thought he wanted to be the King of Israel. We know that he was the Son of God. They thought he was simply Joseph and Mary's son. We know that Jesus has influenced the world for 2000 years. They thought his influence would end at the cross.
It's a fascinating story. We look at the Pharisees and we shake our heads... 
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 You only get one chance to make a first impression. First impressions form lasting images. The first words and first actions we present to another person resound and resonate throughout the duration of that relationship.  

It is not that we are intentionally standoffish and skittish when presented with a new face. It is more about the unconscious gurgling up of the instinctual "fight-flight-freeze-fawn" response all of us possess. Whether we experience a "first impression" as engaging or annoying, easy-going or energetic, kind-hearted or kind of weird, we default to a "fight-flight-freeze-fawn" mode. We decide whether this encounter is something we choose to face, outface, redface, or, whether we suddenly feel the call of a cup of coffee from across the room. 

Things like books as well as people make "first impressions" too. The "first impression" made by the New Testament is, frankly, not all that great. Understandably the gospels come first, and the first gospel we read is Matthew. The first seventeen verses of his opening chapter, his "first impression," is an endless list of everlasting "begats." Matthew had good theological reasons for opening with a genealogy, but for most of us it is a bit like being forced to watch a video of someone else's family reunion, or walking into a room where everyone is hugging and kissing and you know no-one.   

But if the New Testament were arranged chronologically, the first "book," the first written communication, would be Paul's first letter to the Thessalonians, dated around 45 CE. Can you imagine what a different New Testament it would be if the books were in their chronological order of being written, rather than the biographical account of Jesus' life? 

First Thessalonians is the "first impression" of the written testimony of the apostle Paul, whose writings predate those of the gospels... 
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b.     We Are Citizens of This World 

In an invocation prayer at the United States Senate, Peter Marshall said, "Lord Jesus, Thou who art the way, the truth, and the life, hear us as we pray for the truth that shall make men free. Teach us that liberty is not only to be loved but also to be lived. Liberty is too precious a thing to be buried in books. It costs too much to be hoarded. Make us to see that our liberty is not the right to do as we please, but the opportunity to please to do what is right."

It is unthinkable that a Christian would not vote! It is unthinkable that Christians would not run for public office! It is unthinkable that Christians would withdraw from the responsibility of taking part in public life. The Christian has a responsibility to Caesar for all the privileges which the rule of Caesar brings. We are citizens of this world and must be good ones, if we are Christ's disciples.
 

Jerry L. Schmalenberger, When Christians Quarrel, CSS Publishing Co., Inc.
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c.     Only One Top Priority 

I have heard it argued from both pulpit and pew that Jesus' words "Give to the emperor the things that are the emperor's" mean that a Christian is duty-bound to love America, right or wrong. I'm sorry, but I cannot agree with that. One Christian writer has said, "The greatest service Christians can render to their country is to become actively concerned about the destiny of the church."

I have also heard it argued that "Give to the emperor the things that are the emperor's, and to God the things that are God's" implies a strict separation of church and state, that Jesus is dividing life into two separate and distinct parts - a spiritual part and a secular, or worldly, part. Dedicated and committed Christians have been arguing for this separation for centuries, and we probably won't settle the issue once and for all today. Their argument has been that with these words Jesus is telling us to obey God in the spiritual realm and to obey the government in everything else. Now, that's a nice, neat little division, and it solves many difficult problems. Politics is politics and religion is religion and never the twain shall meet. Let the church take care of its own business and keep their noses out of social and political issues. That would be fine if it worked. You and I both know that it doesn't. Yes, there are obligations we have to the governing authorities, such as paying taxes, exercising our right to vote, and obeying civil laws. But as followers of Jesus Christ, our ultimate obligation is to "seek first the kingdom of God," and all other obligations have to have a lower priority. There can only be one top priority.
 

Johnny Dean, Another Tricky Question
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d.     Torn Apart by Legions of Loyalties 

No one seriously denies that we all have legions of loyalties. Sometimes there are too many for our own good. I remember watching a film a few years ago in which a scene opened to show two puppeteers arguing over who would control the strings tied to a marionette on the stage below them. As they argued, one tried to wrest the strings from the other. The result was predictable. The puppet was pulled and thrown this way and that across the stage, as first one puppeteer and then the other pulled the string to an arm or leg, hand or foot.

Our many loyalties and commitments can do the same to us. We may feel that the strings of power and persuasion tied to us need only be tugged a bit, and then we have to move as they direct. The company we work for, the government we live under, the family we belong to, the possessions we own (more so, the one's we're still paying for) - all these things exercise varying degrees of control over our lives. To a large extent they determine how we spend our time, our money, our energy, our being. It isn't rare at all these days for people to be pulled in so many different directions that they jump and jerk across the stage of life, often feeling helplessly out of control.

Our problem is that there are too many Caesars before which we stand accountable. It's impossible to please them all. Rendering to Caesar what is Caesar's is more than some folk feel they can handle.

D. Wayne Burkette, Life in Heaven's Kingdom, CSS Publishing Company
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e.     What We the People Demand 

President James Garfield's words from 1877 still ring true. "Now more than ever before, the people are responsible for the character of their Congress. If that body be ignorant, reckless, and corrupt, it is because the people tolerate ignorance, recklessness, and corruption. If it be intelligent, brave, and pure, it is because the people demand these high qualities to represent them in the national legislature ... if the next centennial does not find us a great nation ... it will be because those who represent the enterprise, the culture, and the morality of the nation do not aid in controlling the political forces." 

Stephen M. Crotts / George L. Murphy / Stan Purdum, Sermons for Sundays: After Pentecost (Last Third): Rendering to God, CSS Publishing Company, Inc.
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f.      Committing to Christ 

Tony Campolo, the Philadelphia sociologist, found himself seated beside the Pennsylvania governor at a state prayer breakfast. In the course of conversation the governor said that he was sympathetic toward Christianity but not personally committed. Campolo asked, "Why not?" The governor replied, "Well, to tell you the truth, no one ever invited me to commit." Campolo said, "I'm inviting you." within five minutes that governor had committed his life to Christ.

We have good news that is essential to every human being; it's a matter of their eternal life or death. We may be the only conduits God has to certain persons. We must help him reach them.

Bill Bouknight, Collected Sermons, www.Sermons.com
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"I have held many things in my hand, and have lost them all; but whatever I have placed in God's hands that I still possess." 

Martin Luther
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g.     Historical Background Information: Paying Caesar 

The poll tax mentioned in this passage was levied by the Romans against the Jews beginning in A.D. 6 when Judea became a Roman province. When imposed for the first time, it provoked the rebellion of Judas the Galilean recorded in Acts 5:37 and discussed in more detail below. The Herodians favored the tax, but the Zealots, Pharisees, and people resented it. The Pharisees and the Herodians, though common adversaries in New Testament times on the very issue of rendering obedience and taxes to the Roman Empire, found themselves in common alliance in this instance to trap Christ in His words, trying to impale him on the horns of a serious dilemma. Should the authority of Caesar be recognized and the poll tax be paid to him? If Christ were to have affirmed payment of the poll tax to Caesar, he would no doubt have pleased the Herodians but would have made Himself an even greater enemy of the Pharisees and an enemy of the people who shared popular resentment to the poll tax as an unlawful imposition by a heathen government. If, by contrast, Christ were to have denied that the poll tax be paid, he would have made Himself out to be an enemy of the state and possibly, subject Himself to the charge of sedition. 

David G. Hagopian, Render to All What Is Due Them: What Every Christian Needs to Know about Honoring Civil Authority and Paying Taxes, Part 2. Extracted from Ordained Servant vol. 4, no. 4.
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h.     It Depends On What Is Important to You 

Two friends were walking near Times Square in Manhattan. It was during the noon lunch hour and the streets were filled with people. Cars were honking their horns, taxicabs were squealing around corners, sirens were wailing, and the sounds of the city were almost deafening. Suddenly, one of them said, "What an interesting place to hear a cricket." 

His friend said, "What? You must be crazy. You couldn't possibly hear a cricket in all of this noise!"
"No, I'm sure of it," his friend said, "I heard a cricket."
"That's crazy," said his friend. 

The man, who thought he had heard a cricket, listened carefully for a moment, and then walked across the street to a big cement planter where some shrubs were growing. He looked into the bushes, beneath the branches, and sure enough, he located a small cricket. His friend was utterly amazed.

"That's incredible," said his friend. "You must have superhuman ears!"

"No," said the man who heard the cricket. "My ears are no different from yours. It all depends on what you're listening for."
"But that can't be!" said the friend. "I could never hear a cricket in this noise."
"Yes, it's true," came the reply. "It depends on what is really important to you. Here, let me show you."
He reached into his pocket, pulled out a few coins, and discreetly dropped them on the sidewalk. And then, with the noise of the crowded street still blaring in their ears, they noticed every head within twenty feet turn and look to see if the money that tinkled on the pavement was theirs.

"See what I mean?" asked the man who heard the cricket. "It all depends on what's important to you."
In the end the Pharisees heard from Jesus what they were listening for. 

Keenan Kelsey, Making Choices
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i.      False Dichotomies 

Let me ask you a few questions that I am sure you can answer:

 Did you put on shoes this morning, or did you come to church in a car?
Do you eat cereal for breakfast, or don't you like football?
Are you Lutheran, or do you live in America?
Will you obey God, or will you pay taxes to Caesar?

Welcome to the world of false dichotomies-thing that are wrongly set against each other, "either/or"s that really aren't. Can you wear shoes and come to church in a car? Can you eat cereal and enjoy football? Can you be Lutheran and live in America?...

MISSION SUNDAY

Whenever we talk about mission and spreading the gospel several ideas might come to our minds.   
We may think of the missionaries who go to other countries like China, Cambodia, and Laos, to build up the churches there. 

We may also think that missionaries are usually priests or religious or some specially chosen lay people because speaking the Gospel is a serious thing and not everyone can do it.   

We may also think that our task is to pray for these missionaries and also to give them some financial support.   
Today’s celebration of Mission Sunday reminds us that we have an important role in the spreading of the gospel.  Let me tell you this story so that we can have a deeper understanding of our role and mission.  An old man was going around planting small fruit trees.  Some asked him when these trees would bear fruit.  He replied: Oh, probably many years after I am gone from this earth.  So then, why plant trees when he won’t be around to enjoy the fruits?  His reply was this: When I came into this world, I didn’t find this world without any fruit trees.  I enjoyed the fruits. Now I plant these fruit trees for those who will come after me, just as those who have done before me.  These are very profound words of the old man – I plant these fruit trees for those who will come after me, just as those who have done before me. 
When we reflect upon the words of the old man, we will also come to a deeper understanding of our faith and mission.  We will come to see that the faith we have had been built upon and handed down to us by the earlier generation of believers.  What we have received, we too must build it up and hand it over to the next generation.  That is not just the work of missionaries, priests, religious and a selected few parishioners. 
Each of us has a task in the spreading of the gospel.  Just as trees bear fruit and gives us shade, so is each one of us called to plant trees of faith that bear fruits of truth and love.  Trees are important not just because they bear fruit and provide shade and beauty.  Trees have an ecological importance. A world without trees is like a dry desert wasteland.  Similarly, faith is important for the world. This world needs God and needs to know His truth and love.   A world without God and His truth and love becomes a dark and dangerous world.  So, Mission Sunday reminds each of us that we have a task and a responsibility. We have to continue planting trees of faith that will bear fruits of truth and love.  And we have to start planting these trees of faith in our homes, in our parish, in our workplace, in our own country.   This world needs to know God. This world needs to know His truth and love.  And we are the ones to show it. We are God’s messengers.  As the 1st reading puts it: All the nations will say – come let us go up to the mountain of the Lord, that He may teach us His ways so that we may walk in His path.  Our task and mission is to plant trees of faith along that path so that as people walk towards the Lord, they will also see the fruits of His truth and love. 
(Fr Stephen Yim) 
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Today, World Mission Sunday, is an opportunity for us to reflect on our part in the missionary role of the Church. The Church has been involved in missionary work right from the very beginning, because the need to bring the spiritual gift of the Gospel to people and to help them in their material needs is an essential part of the Lord’s message.The command to help other people materially goes back to the Old Testament, and is reflected in the first reading today. However, the Jews did not go out seeking to bring other people to believe in God. They were defined as the Chosen People not just by their faith, but also by their ancestry, as descendants of Abraham. They did not turn converts away, but they didn’t seek them out either. Jesus, however, opened salvation to all people, and instructed his apostles to bring the Good News of salvation to the ends of the earth.
With this new perspective, missionary work is a natural consequence of our love for God and neighbor, which Jesus describes in the Gospel as the essence of the Law and the prophets. Once we have received the gift of faith and salvation, with the peace and hope it brings, it is logical to want to share it with others. The second reading shows this in action; St. Paul recounts how he brought the faith to the Thessalonians, and they in turn shared the faith with people far and wide.
The spiritual and material assistance involved in mission work go hand in hand; as a Church, we care for the whole person, body and spirit. We see that missionary spirit alive in our own community. A group of our parishioners is on the mission to Cevicos in the Dominican Republic right now, and those who cannot go themselves have shown their generosity in the very successful collection we had last week. We can also participate in the missionary action of the Church through our prayers. St. Therese of Lisieux is a great example of this. Even though she never left her convent in France, she was a “spiritual sister” for two missionary priests, supporting them through her letters and prayers, and she had great missionary zeal for all people to know Christ. As a result, she is one of the patrons of all missions, together with St. Francis Xavier.
We can also do a great deal of missionary work by the way we live our faith. We are surrounded by good people who do not know Christ, or who know Him only superficially. When we let the peace, joy and hope that our faith brings transform our lives, and when we strive to live Christian love generously, people take notice. Many converts have come to the Church because their lives have been touched by the goodness of Catholic men and women who live Christ’s teachings in their ordinary daily lives.
As I have mentioned on other occasions, I have had the opportunity to be directly involved in missionary work myself. I went to Guatemala as the chaplain for medical missions five times, and it was a powerful experience. The group of missionaries included doctors and nurses, as well as some translators, and volunteers to help with logistics. We set up a clinic at a local parish and offered free basic medical care and some operations at the regional hospital, as well as going door-to-door to invite people to come to the Holy Week liturgies at the church.
In some cases, the doctors were able to save lives, but more often they could only offer temporary relief to chronic illnesses, and education on how to avoid the causes of disease. The dentists probably pulled more teeth in the days we were there than they did in months at their clinics back at home. Yet, what seemed to matter most to people was the fact that we shared our faith and our love with them. The pastor of the parish, who was a German missionary priest, told us that our presence helped to invigorate the life of the parish and give the people hope and strength.
So, thank you for your support for the missions. May God help each of us to remember that we are all called to be missionaries in one way or another, at home or abroad. Let us join our prayers to those of St. Therese, patroness of the missions, interceding for our missionaries in Cevicos and for missionaries throughout the world, that God will give them courage, strength, patience, and ever-greater love. Through our collaboration with the Holy Spirit, may all nations come to know, love, and serve the one true God, and to love each other as sisters and brothers in Christ. 
(Fr Mathew Green)
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Illustrations:

When Hudson Taylor was director of the China Inland Mission, he often interviewed candidates for the mission field. On one occasion, he met with a group of applicants to determine their motivations for service. "And why do you wish to go as a foreign missionary?" he asked one. "I want to go because Christ has commanded us to go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature," was the reply. Another said, "I want to go because millions are perishing without Christ." Others gave different answers. Then Hudson Taylor said, "All of these motives, however good, will fail you in times of testings, trials, tribulations, and possible death. There is but one motive that will sustain you in trial and testing; namely, the love of Christ".
Source Unknown.

A missionary in Africa was once asked if he really liked what he was doing. His response was shocking. "Do I like this work?" he said. "No. My wife and I do not like dirt. We have reasonable refined sensibilities. We do not like crawling into vile huts through goat refuse...But is a man to do nothing for Christ he does not like? God pity him, if not. Liking or disliking has nothing to do with it. We have orders to 'Go,' and we go. Love constrains us."
Our Daily Bread.

Last night I took a journey
To a land far 'cross the seas;
I didn't go by boat or plane,
I trusted on my knees.
I saw so many people there
In deepest depths of sin,
And Jesus told me I should go
That there were souls to win.
But I said, "Jesus, I can't go
And work with such as these."
He answered quickly, "Yes, you can
By traveling on your knees."
He said, "You pray; I'll meet the need,
You call and I will hear;
Be concerned about lost souls,
Of those both far and near."
And so I tried it, knelt in prayer,
Gave up some hours of ease;
I felt the Lord right by my side
While traveling on my knees.
As I prayed on and saw souls saved
And twisted bodies healed,
And saw God's workers' strength renewed
While laboring on the filed.
I said, "Yes, Lord, I have a job
My desire Thy will to please;
I can go and heed Thy call
By traveling on my knees."
Sandra Goodwin.

One afternoon author Patsy Clairmont found herself on an airplane, sitting next to a young man. She writes, "I had already observed something about this young man when I was being seated. He called me "Ma'am." At the time I thought, 'Either he thinks I'm ancient, or he's from the South where they still teach manners, or he's in the service.' I decided the latter was the most likely, so I asked, "You in the service?" "Yes, Ma'am, I am." "What branch?" "Marines." "Hey, Marine, where are you coming from?" "Operation desert Storm, Ma'am." "No kidding? Desert Storm! How long were you there?" I asked. "A year and a half. I'm on my way home. My family will be at the airport." I then commented that he must have thought about returning to his family and home many times while he was in the Middle East. "Oh, no, Ma'am," he replied. "We were taught never to think of what might never be, but to be fully available right where we were."
Focus on the Family, July, 1993, p. 5.

Alila stood on the beach holding her tiny infant son close to her heart. Tears welled in her eyes as she began slowly walking toward the river's edge. She stepped into the water, silently making her way out until she was waist deep, the water gently lapping at the sleeping baby's feet. She stood there for a long time holding the child tightly as she stared out across the river. Then all of a sudden in one quick movement she threw the six month old baby to his watery death.
Native missionary M.V. Varghese often witnesses among the crowds who gather at the Ganges. It was he who came upon Alila that day kneeling in the sand crying uncontrollably and beating her breast. With compassion he knelt down next to her and asked her what was wrong. Through he sobs she told him, "The problems in my home are too many and my sins are heavy on my heart, so I offered the best I have to the goddess Ganges, my first born son." Brother Varghese's heart ached for the desperate woman. As she wept he gently began to tell her about the love of Jesus and that through Him her sins could be forgiven. She looked at him strangely. "I have never heard that before," she replied through her tears. "Why couldn't you have come thirty minutes earlier? If you did, my child would not have had to die."
Each year millions of people come to the holy Indian city of Hardwar to bathe in the River Ganges. These multitudes come believing this Hindu ritual will wash their sins away. For many people like Alila, missionaries are arriving too late, simply because there aren't enough of these faithful brothers and sisters on the mission field. 
Christianity Today, 1993.

A one-legged school teacher from Scotland came to J. Hudson Taylor to offer himself for service in China. "With only one leg, why do you think of going as a missionary?" Asked Taylor.
"I do not see those with two legs going," replied George Scott. He was accepted. 
Pillar of Fire, January First, 1983.

"It is the impassioned pleading of a quiet little Scottish lady that linked my life with the Soudan," wrote Rowland Bingham (a founder of S.I.M.). "In the quietness of her parlor she told how God had called a daughter to China, and her eldest boy (Walter Gowans) to the Soudan. "She spread out before me the vast extent of those thousands of miles and filled in the teeming masses of people. Ere I closed the interview she had place upon me the burden of the Soudan."
A year and a half later Bingham returned to Canada, alone. Walter and Thomas Kent lay buried in Nigeria's interior. "I visited Mrs. Gowans to take her the few personal belongings of her son," he recalled. "She met me with extended hand. We stood there in silence.
"Then she said these words: 'Well, Mr. Bingham, I would rather have had Walter go out to the Soudan and die there, all alone, that have him home today, disobeying his Lord.'"
Our success in this venture means nothing less than the opening of the country for the gospel; our failure, at most, nothing more than the death of two or three deluded fanatics. Still, even death is not failure. His purposes are accomplished. He uses deaths as well as lives in the furtherance of His cause. 
Source Unknown.

Walter Gowans, 1983, a founder of SIM. On Dec. 4, 1893, Walter Gowans and Rowland Bingham of Toronto, Canada, and Thomas Kent of Buffalo, N.Y., landed at Lagos, Nigeria. Their aim was to establish a witness among the 60 million people of what was then commonly known as the Soudan, the area south of the Sahara between the Niger River and the Nile. Gowans and Kent died in the first few months. Bingham returned to Canada, formed a council, and went back to Africa in 1900. That attempt, too, was unsuccessful. In 1901 Bingham sent out a party that succeeded in establishing the Mission's first base, at Patigi, 500 miles up the Niger River. When these first SIM pioneers landed in Nigeria, Gowans was 25 years old, Bingham was two weeks away from his 21st birthday, Kent was 23.
Source Unknown.

The following article is based on a sermon by missionary Del Tarr who served fourteen years in West Africa with another mission agency. His story points out the price some people pay to sow the seed of the gospel in hard soil.
I was always perplexed by Psalm 126 until I went to the Sahel, that vast stretch of savanna more than four thousand miles wide just under the Sahara Desert. In the Sahel, all the moisture comes in a four month period: May, June, July, and August. After that, not a drop of rain falls for eight months. The ground cracks from dryness, and so do your hands and feet. The winds of the Sahara pick up the dust and throw it thousands of feet into the air. It then comes slowly drifting across West Africa as a fine grit. It gets inside your mouth. It gets inside your watch and stops it. The year's food, of course, must all be grown in those four months. People grow sorghum or milo in small fields.
October and November...these are beautiful months. The granaries are full -- the harvest has come. People sing and dance. They eat two meals a day. The sorghum is ground between two stones to make flour and then a mush with the consistency of yesterday's Cream of Wheat. The sticky mush is eaten hot; they roll it into little balls between their fingers, drop it into a bit of sauce and then pop it into their mouths. The meal lies heavy on their stomachs so they can sleep.
December comes, and the granaries start to recede. Many families omit the morning meal. Certainly by January not one family in fifty is still eating two meals a day. By February, the evening meal diminishes. The meal shrinks even more during March and children succumb to sickness. You don't stay well on half a meal a day. April is the month that haunts my memory. In it you hear the babies crying in the twilight. Most of the days are passed with only an evening cup of gruel.
Then, inevitably, it happens. A six- or seven-year-old boy comes running to his father one day with sudden excitement. "Daddy! Daddy! We've got grain!" he shouts.
"Son, you know we haven't had grain for weeks."
"Yes, we have!" the boy insists. "Out in the hut where we keep the goats -- there's a leather sack hanging up on the wall -- I reached up and put my hand down in there -- Daddy, there's grain in there! Give it to Mommy so she can make flour, and tonight our tummies can sleep!"
The father stands motionless. "Son, we can't do that," he softly explains. "That's next year's seed grain. It's the only thing between us and starvation. We're waiting for the rains, and then we must use it."
The rains finally arrive in May, and when they do the young boy watches as his father takes the sack from the wall and does the most unreasonable thing imaginable. Instead of feeding his desperately weakened family, he goes to the field and with tears streaming down his face, he takes the precious seed and throws it away. He scatters it in the dirt! Why? Because he believes in the harvest.
The seed is his; he owns it. He can do anything with it he wants. The act of sowing it hurts so much that he cries. But as the African pastors say when they preach on Psalm 126, "Brother and sisters, this is God's law of the harvest. Don't expect to rejoice later on unless you have been willing to sow in tears."
And I want to ask you: How much would it cost you to sow in tears? I don't mean just giving God something from your abundance, but finding a way to say, "I believe in the harvest, and therefore I will give what makes no sense. The world would call me unreasonable to do this -- but I must sow regardless, in order that I may someday celebrate with songs of joy."
Copyright Leadership, 1983.

When Hudson Taylor was director of the China Inland Mission, he often interviewed candidates for the mission field. On one occasion, he met with a group of applicants to determine their motivations for service. "And why do you wish to go as a foreign missionary?" he asked one. "I want to go because Christ has commanded us to go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature," was the reply. Another said, "I want to go because millions are perishing without Christ." Others gave different answers. Then Hudson Taylor said, "All of these motives, however good, will fail you in times of testings, trials, tribulations, and possible death. There is but one motive that will sustain you in trial and testing; namely, the love of Christ."
Source Unknown.

A missionary in Africa was once asked if he really liked what he was doing. His response was shocking. "Do I like this work?" he said. "No. My wife and I do not like dirt. We have reasonably refined sensibilities. We do not like crawling into vile huts through goat refuse...But is a man to do nothing for Christ he does not like? God pity him, if not. Liking or disliking has nothing to do with it. We have orders to 'Go," and we go. Love constrains us."
Source Unknown.

Love is a Costly Thing, by Dick Hillis
She was lying on the ground. In her arms she held a tiny baby girl. As I put a cooked sweet potato into her outstretched hand, I wondered if she would live until morning. Her strength was almost gone, but her tired eyes acknowledged my gift. The sweet potato could help so little -- but it was all I had.
Taking a bite she chewed it carefully. Then, placing her mouth over her baby's mouth, she forced the soft warm food into the tiny throat. Although the mother was starving, she used the entire potato to keep her baby alive.
Exhausted from her effort, she dropped her head on the ground and closed her eyes. In a few minutes the baby was asleep. I later learned that during the night the mother's heart stopped, but her little girl lived. Love is a costly thing.
God in His live for us (and for a lost world) "spared not His own Son" to tell the world of His love. Love is costly, but we must tell the world at any cost. Such love is costly. It costs parents and sons and daughters. It costs the missionary life itself. In his love for Christ the missionary must give up all to make the Savior known. If you will let your love for Christ, cost you something, the great advance will be made together.
Remember, love is a costly thing. Do you love enough?
OC International.

The average Christian in America gives less than $.20 a week to foreign missions. 
Larry Lutz, Partners International, 1987.

Americans give $700 million per year to mission agencies. However, they pay as much for pet food every 52 days. A person must overeat by at least $1.50 worth of food per month to maintain one excess pound of flesh. Yet $1.50 per month is more than what 90 percent of all Christians in America give to missions.
If the average missions supporter is only five pounds overweight, it means he spends (to his own hurt) at least five times as much as he gives for missions. If he were to choose simple food (as well as not overeat), he could give ten times as much as he does to missions and not modify his standard of living in any other way! 
Ralph Winter of the William Carey Library, 1705 North Sterra Bonita Avenue, Pasadena, CA 91104, in Leadership, IV,4,p. 64.

97% of the world has heard of coke-a-cola
72% of the world has seen a can of coke-a-cola
51% of the world has tasted a can of coke-a-cola
Coke has only been around 80 years (1984).
If God had given the task of world evangelization to the Coke company it would probably be done by now.
Source Unknown.

Single woman outnumber single men 7 to 1 on the mission field according to EFMA, IFMA.
EFMA, IFMA.

William Carey had to overcome great odds to obey the call of God. In The Challenge of Life, Oswald J. Smith noted that "even the Directors of the East India Company opposed [Carey's] work. Following is the idiotic resolution they presented to Parliament:
'The sending out of missionaries into one Eastern possession is the maddest, most extravagant, most costly, most indefensible project which has ever been suggested by a moonstruck fanatic.'"
Smith added, "In 1796, the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland passed the following infamous resolution: 'To spread the knowledge of the gospel amongst barbarians and heathens seems to be highly preposterous.' One speaker in the House of Commons said that he would rather see a band of devils let loose in India than a band of missionaries. Such was the opposition to missions when Carey set forth. And yet, he was able to write, 'Why is my soul disquieted within me? Things may turn out better than I expect. Everything is known to God, and God cares.'" William Carey stood the test, and became the father of modern missions.
Daily Bread.

Some wish to live within the sound of church or chapel bell;
I want to run a rescue shop within a yard of hell.
C.T. Studd.

Some years ago, a very good friend of mine, Dr. E. Myers Harrison, gave a missionary message that I cannot forget. It was to a small group of people, but I will never forget the sermon. Dr. Harrison is now at home with the Lord, but he was a great servant of God and a great missionary statesman. He said that each of us as Christians must hear what God has to say. There is the command from above: "Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature" (Mark 16:15). Have you heard that?
I've heard people say, "But God wants our church to be different. We're not supposed to have a missionary program." I don't believe that. I believe the command from above is given to every Christian and to every assembly that God has raised up. Then there is the cry from beneath. Remember the rich man who died and woke up in hell and begged for someone to go and tell his brothers? (see Luke 16). "I pray thee, therefore, father, that thou wouldest send him to my father's house (for I have five brethren), that he may testify unto them, lest they also come into this place of torment" (vv. 27,28). There is the cry from beneath. If you and I could hear the cries of people in a lost eternity right now, we'd realize how important it is to get the Gospel out. There's the command from above. Have you heard it? There's the cry from beneath. Have you heart it?
Then, according to Dr. Harrison, there is the call from without. Acts 16:9 says, "Come over into Macedonai, and help us." People around us are saying, "Please come to help us!" So much money, time and energy is being spent on routine church matters in America when there is a whole world to reach for Christ! We face so many open doors! 
W. Wiersbe, Something Happens When Churches Pray, pp.102-3.

Association of Church Missions Commissions definition of a "mobilizing church:" 1) 10% of the church's members are regularly and systematically praying for missions. 2) 10% of the church's members are regularly and systematically sharing their faith. 3) 10% of the church's budget is spent on cross-cultural outreach. 4) 1% of the church's members are entering cross- cultural service. 5) The church is working to involve one neighbor church in missions. 
ACMC Newsletter, Autumn, 1989, p. 1.

I had known about Jesus dying for me, but I had never understood that, if He had died for me, then I didn't belong to myself. Redemption means buying back, so that if I belong to Him, either I had to be a thief, and keep what wasn't mine, or else I had to give up everything to God. When I came to see that Jesus had died for me, it didn't seem hard to give up all for Him. 
C.T. Studd.

If Jesus Christ be God and died for me, then no sacrifice can be too great for me to make for Him. 
C.T. Studd.

Henry Martyn (1781-1812)
Following a brilliant student career at Cambridge, rejected several opportunities in order to go to the mission field. He prayed, "Here am I, Lord; send me to the ends of the earth, send me to the rough, the savage pagans of the wilderness; send me from all that is called comfort in earth; send me even to death itself if it be but in Thy service and in Thy kingdom."
Donald Campbell, Nehemiah: Man in Charge, Victor Books, 1979, p. 13.

************

MISSIONARY

In 1912 William Borden, a graduate of Yale University, left one of America's greatest family fortunes to be a missionary to China. He got as far as Egypt and died of cerebral meningitis. He died--and was only in his 20s--but there was "no reserve, no retreat, no regrets" in his consecration to God.
Source Unknown.

But, for me personally, being anything but a missionary would be second best. Perhaps a story I recall hearing years ago explains it best. It seems the old Standard Oil Company offered an enormous sum of money to a missionary in China to work for them, to help with the development of Standard Oil in China. The missionary turned them down. So they doubled the salary offer. He turned them down again. They said, "What do you want? We can't give more money than that.: He said, "The money doesn't have anything to do with it. The job is too small."
SimNow.

In his book Facing Loneliness, J. Oswald Sanders writes, "The round of pleasure or the amassing of wealth are but vain attempts to escape from the persistent ache...The millionaire is usually a lonely man and the comedian is often more unhappy than his audience."
Sanders goes on the emphasize that being successful often fails to produce satisfaction. Then he refers to Henry Martyn, a distinguished scholar, as an example of what he is talking about. Martyn, a Cambridge University student, was honored at only 20 years of age for his achievements in mathematics. In fact, he was given the highest recognition possible in that field. And yet he felt an emptiness inside. He said that instead of finding fulfillment in his achievements, he had "only grasped a shadow."
After evaluating his life's goals, Martyn sailed to India as a missionary at the age of 24. When he arrived, he prayed, "Lord, let me burn out for You." In the next 7 years that preceded his death, he translated the New Testament into three difficult Eastern languages. These notable achievements were certainly not passing "shadows."
Our Daily Bread, January 21, 1994.

John G. Paton, a missionary to the South Sea Islands, often lived in danger as he worked among the hostile aborigines who had never heard the gospel. At one time three witch doctors, claiming to have the power to cause death, publicly declared their intentions to kill Paton with their sorcery before the next
Sunday. To carry out their threat, they said they needed some food he had partially eaten. Paton asked for three plums. He took a bite out of each and then gave them to the men who were plotting his death. 
On Sunday, the missionary entered the village with a smile on his face and a spring in his step. The people looked at each other in amazement, thinking it couldn't possibly be Paton. Their "sacred men" admitted that they had tried by all their incantations to kill him. When asked why they
had failed, they replied that the missionary was a sacred man like themselves, but that his God was stronger than theirs. From then on Paton's influence grew, and soon he had the joy of leading some of the villagers to the Lord.
Source Unknown.

LIVINGSTONE, DAVID
Sometimes marriage to a great leader comes with a special price for his wife. Such was the case for Mary Moffatt Livingstone, wife of Dr. David Livingstone, perhaps the most celebrated missionary in the Western world. Mary was born in Africa as the daughter of Robert Moffatt, the missionary who inspired
Livingstone to go to Africa. The Livingstones were married in Africa in 1845, but the years that followed were difficult for Mary. Finally, she and their six children returned to England so she could recuperate as Livingstone plunged deeper into the African interior. Unfortunately, even in England Mary lived in
near poverty. The hardships and long separations took their toll on Mrs. Livingstone, who died when she was just forty-two. 
Today in the Word, MBI, January, 1990, p. 12.

Alila stood on the beach holding her tiny infant son close to her heart. Tears welled in her eyes as she began slowly walking toward the river's edge. She stepped into the water, silently making her way out until she was waist deep, the water gently lapping at the sleeping baby's feet. She stood there for a long time holding the child tightly as she stared out across the river. Then all of a sudden in one quick movement she threw the six month old baby to his watery death.
Native missionary M.V. Varghese often witnesses among the crowds who gather at the Ganges. It was he who came upon Alila that day kneeling in the sand crying uncontrollably and beating her breast. With compassion he knelt down next to her and asked her what was wrong.
Through her sobs she told him, "The problems in my home are too many and my sins are heavy on my heart, so I offered the best I have to the goddess Ganges, my first born son." Brother Varghese's heart ached for the desperate woman. As she wept he gently began to tell her about the love of Jesus and that through Him her sins could be forgiven. She looked at him strangely. "I have never heard that before," she replied through her tears. "Why couldn't you have come thirty minutes earlier? If you did, my child would not have had to die."
Each year millions of people come to the holy Indian city of Hardwar to bathe in the River Ganges. These multitudes come believing this Hindu ritual will wash their sins away. For many people like Alila, missionaries are arriving too late, simply because there aren't enough of these faithful brothers and sisters on the mission field. 
Christianity Today, 1993.