The Window

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The WindowTwo men, both seriously ill, occupied the same hospital room. One man was allowed to sit up in his bed for an hour a day to drain the fluids from his lungs. His bed was next to the room’s only window. The other man had to spend all his time flat on his back.

The men talked for hours on end. They spoke of their wives and   families, their homes, their jobs, their involvement in the military service, where they had been on vacation. And every afternoon when the man in the bed next to the window could sit up, he would pass the time by describing to his roommate all the things he could see outside the window.

The man in the other bed would live for those one-hour periods where his world would be broadened and enlivened by all the activity and color of the outside world. The window overlooked a park with a lovely lake, the man had said. Ducks and swans played on the water while children sailed their model boats. Lovers walked arm in arm amid flowers of every color of the rainbow. Grand old trees graced the landscape, and a fine view of the city skyline could be seen in the distance. As the man by the window described all this in exquisite detail, the man on the other side of the room would close his eyes and imagine the picturesque scene.

One warm afternoon the man by the window described a parade passing by.  Although the other man could not hear the band, he could see it in his mind’s eye as the gentleman by the window portrayed it with descriptive words. Unexpectedly, an alien thought entered his head: Why should he have all the pleasure of seeing everything while I never get to see anything? It didn’t seem fair. As the thought fermented, the man felt ashamed at first. But as the days passed and he missed seeing more sights, his envy eroded into resentment and soon turned him sour. He   began to brood and found himself unable to sleep. He should be by that window – and that thought now controlled his life.

Late one night, as he lay staring at the ceiling, the man by the window began to cough. He was choking on the fluid in his lungs. The other man   watched in the dimly lit room as the struggling man by the window groped for the button to call for help. Listening from across the room, he never moved, never pushed his own button, which would have brought the nurse running. In less than five minutes, the coughing and choking stopped, along with the sound of breathing. Now, there was only silence–deathly silence.

The following morning, the day nurse arrived to bring water for their baths. When she found the lifeless body of the man by the window, she was saddened and called the hospital attendant to take it away–no words, no fuss. As soon as it seemed appropriate, the man asked if he could be moved next to the window. The nurse was happy to make the switch and after making sure he was comfortable, she left him alone.

Slowly, painfully, he propped himself up on one elbow to take his   first look. Finally, he would have the joy of seeing it all himself. He strained to slowly turn to look out the window beside the bed. It faced a blank wall.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                 ?????????????????????????????????

What causes quarrels and what causes fights among you? Is it not this, that your passions are at war within you? You desire and do not have, so you murder. You covet and cannot obtain, so you fight and quarrel. You do not have, because you do not ask. You ask and do not receive, because you ask wrongly, to spend it on your passions. You adulterous people! Do you not know that friendship with the world is enmity with God? Therefore whoever wishes to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God. Or do you suppose it is to no purpose that the Scripture says, “He yearns jealously over the spirit that he has made to dwell in us”?

James 4:1-10

The pursuit of happiness is a matter of choice…it is a positive attitude we consciously choose to express. It is not a gift that gets delivered to our doorstep each morning, nor does it come through the window. And I am certain that our circumstances are just a small part of what makes us joyful. If we wait for them to get just right, we will never find lasting joy.

The pursuit of happiness is an inward journey. Our minds are like   programs, awaiting the code that will determine behaviors; like bank vaults awaiting our deposits. If we regularly deposit positive, encouraging, and uplifting thoughts, if we continue to bite our lips just before we begin to grumble and complain, if we shoot down that seemingly harmless negative thought as it germinates, we will find that there is much to rejoice about.

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Suzanna’s Innocence and the Woman Caught in Adultery’s Guilt

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All three of the readings for mass today are very powerful.  In the first reading, a young boy Daniel defended an innocent woman against those who accused her of adultery and had her sentenced to death.  In the gospel today, Jesus defended a woman who was guilty of adultery and was also sentenced to death.  They are both very powerful stories and each story is beautiful in their own way.  One woman was falsely accused and sentenced to die, but placed her life in God’s hands and trusted Him. The other woman was justly accused and was sentenced to die. She did not have any hope because it was the law that she was to die for her sin.

Jesus Christ did not come for the righteous, but sinners though. Christ’s compassion for the adulteress surpassed all of the rules of the past.  (Mt 9:13 / Mk 2:17 / Lk 5:32)

We can also understand Suzanna’s innocence in the first reading from the book of Daniel.  She was innocent of the charges against her and was unjustly sentenced to death.  All she had left was her faith in God, which she clung to as she was being led to her execution.  Can you imagine that walk?

While Suzanna was walking toward her execution, it must have felt a lot like Psalm 23 in our readings for mass today.  “Even though I walk in the dark valley I fear no evil; for you are at my side.”  And, this was true.  God was literally by her side.  Many people do not realize that the Holy Spirit existed and was active in the old testament too.  Today’s reading shows that He was definitely present and walking beside Suzanna, because the young boy Daniel felt the Holy Spirit’s presence so strongly, that he spontaneously stopped everyone and said that he would have no part in Suzanna’s death.  How could he know that Suzanna was innocent?  How did Daniel come up with the wisdom to pry the truth out of her accusers?  As a young boy, he could not have possessed this wisdom on his own.  The Holy Spirit inspired him to speak the truth, and then guided him on what to do to prove the truth.  All of this was unexpectedly accomplished while Suzanna was being led to her execution.

Actually, the same thing happened with the adulteress who was being led to her execution as well, except Jesus went over the top in his compassion for her.  Who would have expected this either?  This woman clearly committed adultery and deserved to be put to death according to their laws at the time.

Jesus-AdulterousWoman

Did you notice how Jesus wrote in the sand and seemed to ignore the scribes and Pharisees even while they continued questioning him?  This is a good thing for us to pay attention to.  Tempers were flaring, emotions were high, and demands were being made. The accusations flung toward the adulteress were dominated by self-righteousness, even if the woman caught in adultery was guilty of the crime.

Sometimes the punishment can be worse than the crime.  Even justifiable consequences can mushroom out of control and end up doing more harm than good sometimes.  This is something young parents should really pay close attention to.   Children have to be corrected when they do things that are wrong, but it is very easy to allow your emotions to get out of hand.  In one split second you can say or do something that your child will remember the rest of their life, if you allow your temper to get the best of you.  A small word of praise sticks with them forever, but so does the actions and words that we say in anger.  Elderly people often go to their grave never forgetting the hurtful words their parents said to them when they were little children, even if they did forgive them for it.  None of us want to be remembered for our worst moments.

Jesus diffused the whole situation in today’s gospel by doing nothing until everyone’s emotions calmed down.  Slowly writing in the sand may have distracted everyone from the problem at hand, and given them something different, something neutral to focus their attention on.  His calm, neutral response diffused the explosion that was on the verge of happening.  Jesus stepped back and separated himself from the situation for a moment until everyone could get control of their emotions.  This is good advice for everyone, but most especially parents of small children.

The rest of the gospel tells us how Jesus turned this very explosive situation, into a very healing and restorative thing for everyone involved.  People are actually more important than the rules.   Sometimes an infraction of the rules is so bad that they have to be set aside for the moment, in order to love the person, apart from their sin.  People change because of love, not rules.  Rules were made for love, or out of love for one another.

The person is more precious to Jesus than the rules they have broken, or the sins they have committed.  This should be true for us as well.

TheCatholicWord.com

Do Not Be Afraid

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Today the Liturgy talks about raising the dead. This gets me to thinking, am I really ready to accept God to the point I’m not afraid of my own death. I think it takes a truly strong person to admit with any sincerity that he/she is ready to accept death for the Lord. There is still the fear of the unknown.

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The fear of death is like a cloud, a terrible shadow that falls over human life and experience. All of our proximate fears are reflections of, and participation in, this primordial fear. It cramps us, turns us in on ourselves, makes us defensive, hateful, violent, and vengeful.

Further, most of the structures of oppression in the world are predicated upon the fear of death. Because a tyrant can threaten his people with death, he can dominate them; because a dictator can threaten people with killing, he can perpetrate all sorts of injustice. Whenever the strong (in any sense) overwhelm the weak, we are looking at the ways of death.

But what would life be like if we were no longer afraid? What if death had finally lost its sting?

Then we would live as the saints do–not immune to suffering, but, if I can put it this way, unaffected by it. We would know that we are loved by a power that transcends death, and this would fill us with an exuberance beyond measure.

Jesus came to inaugurate this fearless and death-defying love. Therefore in the great words of John Paul II, which were really the words of Christ, “Do not be afraid.”

Sin

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WHERE DOES SINFUL HUMANITY GO WHEN THEY DIE?

If we remain in our sins, we will die, not only physically but eternally as well. The Bible tells us why: “For the wages of sin is death” (Romans 6:23a). It also describes the day when God judges sinful humanity; “And if anyone’s name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire.” (Rev. 20:15).

This miserable destiny is the lot of all humankind if they remain alienated from God. Thankfully, God did not ignore us in our unrighteousness and rebellion but provided a way of escape from His wrath!

HOW DO WE ESCAPE?

Too often, we as sinful humans imagine that we can counteract our unrighteous deeds by doing good deeds. However, in God’s economy, human performance just does not cut it. Our own works will not save us; God’s grace is the only way to salvation. “For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not as a result of works, so that no one may boast.” (Ephesians 2:8-9).

How do we experience this grace? How can we be reconciled to God and receive this eternal life? This is the most important question each human being must ask

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To My Readers:

I have neglected my blog for some time now and this is not fair to those who follow me. I aim to be more diligent in my blogging, and as always I am open to your suggestions and feedback. Since my last post in December, I have opened a new website, thecatholicword.com as well as wilm4life.org .

I now manage both of these sites, please check them out and again your feed back is very important. I appreciate your patience in my lack of writing. Thank You and God Bless.

Paul

God’s Gift Of Salvation

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How Do I Please God?                                                                                Image

Many people believe that when they die God will accept them into His presence because they have lived good lives. They might point to the fact that they have given money to charity, that they have attended church, or that they have not done anything “really bad.”

What Is Humanity’s True Condition?

Nevertheless, in the Bible, God says that no one can live up to His righteous standard. “There is none righteous, not even one; There is none who understands, There is none who seeks for God; All have turned aside, together they have become useless; There is none who does good, There is not even one.” (Romans 3:10-12).

Earlier in the book of Romans, the author Paul goes further to describe humanity’s miserable condition and the reality of God’s wrath against us for our evil: “For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who suppress the truth in unrighteousness” (Romans 1:18).

In short, humanity is completely unrighteous in God’s sight, and God is going to judge humanity for its sin and evil.

Where Does Sinful Humanity Go When They Die?

If we remain in our sins, we will die, not only physically but eternally as well. The Bible tells us why: “For the wages of sin is death” (Romans 6:23a). It also describes the day when God judges sinful humanity; “And if anyone’s name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire.” (Rev. 20:15).

This miserable destiny is the lot of all humankind if they remain alienated from God. Thankfully, God did not ignore us in our unrighteousness and rebellion but provided a way of escape from His wrath!

How Do We Escape?

Too often, we as sinful humans imagine that we can counteract our unrighteous deeds by doing good deeds. However, in God’s economy, human performance just does not cut it. Our own works will not save us; God’s grace is the only way to salvation. “For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not as a result of works, so that no one may boast.” (Ephesians 2:8-9).

How do we experience this grace? How can we be reconciled to God and receive this eternal life? This is the most important question each human being must ask.

What Is God’s Way Of Salvation?

Despite our inability to save ourselves, God made a way of salvation for sinful humanity. Describing this plan is the most famous verse in the Bible is John 3:16: “For God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have eternal life.” God’s solution is His own Son: Jesus Christ.

Just prior to John 3:16, John describes who Jesus Christ is. He identifies Jesus Christ as the “Word” when he says, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. … And the Word became flesh, and dwelt among us, and we saw his glory, glory as of the only begotten from the Father, full of grace and truth” (John 1:1, 14).

Simply put, Jesus Christ is both God and Man. Many other passages confirm this fact: “God was manifest in the flesh” (1 Timothy 3:16); “Christ came, who is over all, God blessed forever” (Romans 9:5); “But of the Son He says, Your throne, O God, is forever and ever” (Hebrews 1:8).

What Did Jesus Christ Come To Accomplish?

Why did Christ take on a human nature? Why did He have to die? Christ took on a human nature to live the perfect human life that we could not live ourselves. “For we have not an high priest who cannot sympathize with our weakness, but One who has been tempted in all things as we are, yet without sin” (Hebrews 4:15).

Most shocking is the question of why Christ had to die on the cross. Because God is infinitely just, He cannot sweep our sin under the carpet. Either He must punish us for our sins, or He must punish a voluntary substitute. The Bible says, “But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:8). Christ was the voluntary substitute for sinners, and “He humbled himself, and became obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross” (Philippians 2:8b).

So not only did Christ live a perfect life in our place, he also died the death that we deserved to die, and He absorbed God’s wrath on our behalf. Therefore, the Bible can say, “…we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son…” (Romans 5:10b)

If Christ had remained on the cross or in the grave, it would all be just a sad story—but Christ did not stay dead. As a declaration that God is satisfied with the perfect sacrifice of His Son on our behalf, God raised His Son from the dead, and in His resurrection all who believes in Christ have the hope of a future resurrection to eternal life. “But now Christ has been raised from the dead, the first fruits of those who are asleep. For since by a man came death, by a man came also came the resurrection of the dead” (1 Corinthians 15:20-21).

How Do I Receive This Free Gift?

In light of this amazing sacrifice, we might imagine that the cost of such a salvation on our part would be higher than we could afford. God has already told us that our good works do not save us. Our only hope of salvation and eternal life is, “that if you confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved; for with the heart a person believes, resulting in righteousness, and with the mouth he confesses, resulting in salvation.” (Romans 10:9-10)

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