“Do you have any idea who I am?"
The Los Angeles Times published the story of a commercial airline flight cancellation which resulted in a long line of travelers trying to get bookings on another flight. One man in the line grew increasingly impatient with the slow-moving line. At last, he pushed his way to the front and angrily demanded a first-class ticket on the next available flight. "I’m sorry," said the ticket agent, “First I’ll have to take care of the people who were ahead of you in the line." The irate man then pounded his fist on the ticket counter, saying, "Do you have any idea who I am?" Whereupon, the ticket agent picked up the public address microphone and said, "Attention, please! There is a gentleman at the ticket counter who does not know who he is. If there is anyone in the airport who can identify him, please come to the counter." Hearing this, the man retreated, and the people waiting in line burst into applause. We are like this man. We have forgotten how to wait patiently. In today’s gospel, Jesus invites us to learn his meekness and humility. (Tony Kadavil)
National Public Radio had a story about a club that has been formed at a high school in Greenwich, Connecticut. The club is called the Power Nap Club! A group of students go to a room at the end of the school day where they turn off the lights, put their heads on their desks, plug in a tape of quiet classical music, and take what they call a “power nap” for about a half hour. “Their club tee-shirts are decorated with a cardinal (the school mascot), wearing a little nightcap on his head. Inscribed on the tee-shirt is a new version of an old Latin motto, ‘Veni, vidi, dormivi: I came, I saw, I slept!’ The club was formed not because these are lazy high school students, but exactly the reverse. These kids are going to school all day, participating in sports, volunteering in the community, going to church or mosque or synagogue, and holding down part-time jobs. They’re exhausted. And they’ve learned that just a little nap makes all the difference in the world” (Carlton Young). In today’s gospel, Jesus says to us and to them, “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.” (Tony Kadavil)
My Mother taught me Humility and Real Responsibility:
Indra Nooyi from Chennai, India is the fifth CEO in PepsiCo's 47-year history. She recounted the day 17 years ago when she was told that she would be made president of PepsiCo and be named to the board of directors.
She said she was "overwhelmed" but her mother's reaction was, she said, "let the news wait. Can you go out and get some milk."
Ms Nooyi recalled her mother telling her when she reacted to , "let me explain something to you. You might be president of PepsiCo. You might be on the board of directors. But when you enter this house, you're the wife, you're the daughter, you're the daughter-in-law, you're the mother. You're all of that. Nobody else can take that place. So leave that damned crown in the garage. And don't bring it into the house."
"You know I've never seen that crown," the corporate honcho said.
FROM FR. JUDE BOTELHO:
In today’s first reading Zachariah the last of the minor prophets, describes the coming of the Messiah and his nature as a triumphant and victorious king and yet humble and lowly in nature. In order to belong to the Messiah promised and sent for us we have to fulfill a very important condition: We have to imbibe the spirit of the Messiah without which we cannot belong to him. He gives up all authority and power, he does not control, He walks the way of justice and peace for all. Have we the Spirit of Jesus dwelling in us? Do we live life according to the Spirit of Jesus?
What goes around comes around
When I was working as a disc jockey in Columbus Ohio, I used to go to the University Hospital or Grant Hospital on my way home. I would walk down the different corridors and just enter different people’s rooms and read scripture to them or talk to them. It was a way of forgetting my own problems and being thankful to God for my health. I was very controversial on radio. I had offended someone in an editorial that I had done and the person I exposed literally took a contract out on me. One night I was coming home at about two o’clock in the morning. I had just finished working at the night club where I was emcee. As I began to open my door, a man came out from behind the side of my house and said, “Are you Les Brown?” I said, “Yes, sir.” he said. “I need to talk to you. I was sent here to carry a contract on you.” “Me? Why?” I asked. He said, “Well, there’s a promoter that’s very upset about the money you cost him when you said that the group that was coming to town was not the real group.” “Are you going to do something to me?” I asked. He said, “No.” I was glad. He continued, “My mother was in Grant Hospital and she wrote about how you came in one day and talked to her and read Scripture to her. She was so impressed that this morning disc jockey, who didn’t know her, came in and did that. She wrote to me when I was in the Ohio penitentiary. I was impressed with that and I always wanted to meet you. When I heard the word out on the street that somebody wants to knock you off” he said, “I accepted the contract and then told them to leave you alone.”
Les Brown in ‘A 2nd Helping of Chicken Soup for the soul’
This Sunday’s gospel begins on a note of thanksgiving with Jesus acknowledging the Father for hiding things from the wise and the clever and revealing them to infants, to those who stand in humility before God. When the people returned from the Babylonian captivity, the Davidic dynasty no longer ruled in Jerusalem. In a shift it was thought that the ideal king would come in the indefinite future when the Davidic throne would be restored. This gave rise to the idea of the emergence of the Messianic king. Yet, since there was no visible dynasty to produce this figure, other Jewish expectations emerged. Some Jews expected salvation through an ideal priest or prophet like Moses or by God himself without human assistance. It was amidst these expectations that Jesus was born to poor parents in Jerusalem. Jesus himself did not openly claim to be the Messiah. He appeared to be the humble Messiah that Zechariah prophesied a few centuries before the birth of Jesus. Jesus chose the title ‘Son of Man’ while speaking of his life and mission. Jesus is the messiah who lived among suffering humanity, a friend of the out-castes of society, who sought table fellowship with sinners and tax collectors. It is in this context that his invitation to us in today’s gospel becomes intelligible. “Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me; for I am gentle and humble of heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.”
Centuries ago Jesus summoned his apostles and disciples and sent them two by two to communicate God’s love, to bind up wounds and to be peace-makers in a troubled world. Jesus knew they would make mistakes; nevertheless he involved them in his mission and gave them his authority. Today, all the baptized understand their call to Jesus’s mission and ministry to others. Whatever our position in society, we are invited to set out with full hearts to build our Church, and help it grow. Armed with faith and our personal experience of Jesus, we can all proclaim with our lives the reign of God. Through simple acts of caring, we have the ability to change the world. By providing a listening ear to the sick or lonely, or companionship to the young or elderly, we are ministers. When we are helpful, loyal and constant without seeking personal glory, we respond to the needs around us and build up the body of Christ. As we are called and respond, so do we also call others to do the same. Let us celebrate this gift and task with thanksgiving. We can make this world better with our lives, let us begin.
Where to look for God’s image?
You may have heard the ancient tale of God’s original problem: where to conceal his most precious possession, his own image. He called three wise counselors to listen to their suggestions. The first advised God to put his image on the top of the highest mountain on earth where it would be safe forever; God however declined the suggestion. The second wise man proposed that God put his image in the depth of the deepest sea; but God saw submarines in his mind’s eye and said no. The third suggested that God hide his image on the far side of the moon; but God smiled to himself and said even there man could reach it. Then God had his original idea: “I know where to conceal my image,” he said. “I will put it where people would never think of looking; I will put it into their hearts. There it will never be discovered.” And the three wise men nodded in agreement; they knew that God was right, indeed right.
Denis McBride in ‘Seasons of the Heart’
There was a queue of people outside the gates of heaven. Each person was asked the question: 'Why do you think you should be admitted?' The first person in the queue, a very religious man, said, 'I studied the Bible every day.' 'Very good,' said the Lord. 'However, we'll have to carry out an investigation to see why you studied the Bible. So please step aside for a moment!' The second was a very pious woman who said, 'Lord, I said my prayers every day without fail.' 'Very good,' the Lord answered. 'However, we'll have to see if your motives were pure, so step aside for a moment.' Then an innkeeper approached. He just said, 'Lord on earth I wasn't a very religious man, but my door was always open to the homeless, and I never refused food to anyone who was hungry.' 'Very good,' said the Lord. 'In your case no investigation is needed, go right in.' -It has been said that if you do a good deed, but have an ulterior motive, it would be better not to do it at all. The only exception is charity. Even though it isn't as good as doing it with a pure motive, it is still a good deed, and benefits the other person, no matter what your motive.
Flor McCarthy in 'New Sunday and Holy Day Liturgies'
Keeper of the flame
Sometime ago the Los Angeles Times carried a moving story by reporter Dave Smith. It was about a modern Christian who put God first in his life, other people second, and himself third. His name is Charlie DeLeo. After returning from Vietnam, he got a job as maintenance man at the Statue of Liberty. Charlie told the reporter that part of his job is to take care of the torch in the statue's hand and the crown on the statue's head. He has to make sure that the sodium vapour lights are always working and that the 200 glass windows in the torch and the crown are always clean. Pointing to the torch, Charlie said proudly, "That's my chapel. I dedicated it to the Lord, and I go up there and meditate on my breaks." But Charlie does other things for the Lord, as well. He received a commendation from the Red Cross after donating his 65th pint of blood. And since hearing of the work of Mother Teresa in India, he has given over $12,000 to her and to people like her. Charlie told the Los Angeles Times reporter: "I don't socialize much; don't have enough money to get married. I don't keep any of my money. After I got my job, I sponsored six orphans through those children's organizations." Charlie ended by telling the reporter that he calls himself the "Keeper of the Flame" of the Statue of Liberty. Later a park guide told the reporter: "Everybody knows Charlie is special. When he first gave himself that title, people smiled. But we all take it seriously now. To us, he's exactly what he says: 'Keeper of the Flame."
Mark Link in 'Sunday Homilies'
Pay nothing? You get nothing!
A man came to buy a saddle for his horse. He saw a fine piece and asked, "How much?" "Five hundred rupees", the shop owner replied. "But that is too much," the man replied. "As it is the saddle is overly decorated. Remove some of the decoration and cut down the price." "All right" the shop owner said and took away some of the decoration. "Now it will be Rs. 400." "Rs. 400? Even that is too much. There is still some decoration you can remove." And so it went on till the price was brought down to Rs. 250. Even so the customer found the price too much. At last the shop owner said, "All right, sir. The saddle will cost you nothing." The buyer asked excitedly, "Nothing? Wonderful! What do I get? The shop owner told him. "Nothing." - We get according to our willingness to pay. This holds good in the spiritual realm too.
G. Francis Xavier in 'Inspiring Stories'
From Fr. Tony Kadavil’s Collection:
Pope St. John XXIII during the Second Vatican Council days used to submit all his anxieties to God by this prayer every night: “Lord, Jesus, I’m going to bed. It's your Church. Take care of it!” The President Dwight David Eisenhower knew about that inner rest derived from submitting daily lives to God. He had it even while he was the leader of armed forces in World War II. His every decision during that awful conflict had monumental consequences. How did he deal with the pressure? Ike shared with his former pastor, Dean Miller that he didn't try to carry his burden alone. Some nights when the strain became too great, Eisenhower would simply pray, "Lord, with your grace I've done the best I can. You take over until morning." And he understood very well Jesus’ advice in today’s Gospel: “Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest” (Matthew 11: 28).
"No," her mother replied, "You can't have chocolate for breakfast. Do you want a bagel or cereal?"
Again the little girl said, "Chocolate."
Slightly exasperated, the mother said, "No, honey. You can't have my chocolate until after lunch. Now what do you want . . .a bagel or cereal?"
The little girl said with a grin, "Lunch!" (as told by Don Colbert, What Would Jesus Eat? , 145).
And then it happened... Robert Raines saw one of the most beautiful things he had ever witnessed in his life.
Right there at the very edge of that great mountain peak and facing the gorgeous valley below... was a young man in his early twenties with a trumpet pressed to his lips. And, do you know what he was playing? With his lungs expanded fully and releasing all of the energy in his soul, he was playing the Doxology on his trumpet!
Praise God from whom all blessings flow
Praise Him all creatures here below
Praise Him above ye heavenly host
Praise, Father, Son and Holy Ghost!
The point is clear: With all the stresses and problems in this life, still the truth is:
- We have so many doxologies to sing,
- So much to be grateful for,
- So many blessings to count.
The point is: Life is more than a grueling endurance test. Life is more than a survival game. Life is more than a coping competition.
So, you see... it's not enough to just escape the stress. It's not enough to just endure the stress. Thank God... there is another option...
James W. Moore, Collected Sermons, www.Sermons.com
Now Jesus comes along to say that wisdom and intelligence did not cut the mustard when it comes to knowing God. Not only is the yoke not to be resisted, we are to voluntarily take this yoke upon ourselves and surrender to one who is greater than us!
Second, reject anything that is producing an addiction in you.
Third, develop a habit of giving things away.
Fourth, refuse to be propagandized by the custodians of modern gadgetry.
Fifth, learn to enjoy things without owning them.
Sixth, develop a deeper appreciation for the creation.
Seventh, look at a healthy skepticism at all "buy now, pay later" schemes.
Eighth, obey Jesus' instructions about plain, honest speech.
Ninth, reject anything that will breed the oppression of others.
Tenth, shun whatever would distract you from you main goal: "Seek first the kingdom of God."
The king asked his royal subjects, "What is the sweetest melody of all?" Early the next morning they gathered all sorts of musicians. The sound awoke the king and all morning he listened to their tunes. But, after listening to all of them he could not tell which was the sweetest sound. Finally, one subject suggested they all play together. It was so noisy the king couldn't think.
About that moment a woman, dressed in her Sunday best, pushed to the front of the crowd and stepped forward. "O, king," she said, "I have the answer to your question." The king was surprised since she had no instrument. "Why didn't you come earlier?" he asked. She replied, "I had to wait until the setting of the sun." The musicians were still playing and the king told them all to stop.
The woman then took two candles and placed them on the king's balcony rail. She lit them just as the sun continued to set. The flames glowed in the evening darkness. She then lifted her voice and said, "Blessed art thou, O Lord, Our God, King of the universe, who sanctified us with the commandments and commanded us to kindle the Sabbath lights." She then said, "He who has an ear, let him hear."
Everyone was completely still. "What is that?" asked the king." He could not hear a sound. The woman then replied, "What you hear is the sound of rest, the sweetest melody of all."
Jesus said, "Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest." This is also the sweetest sound any of us can hear.