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One Act Of Obedience

Which of the two did the Father's Will? (Matthew 21:31) Twenty-Sixth Sunday in Ordinary Time

The mother of a fifteen-year-old girl was anxious about her daughter’s recently acquired independent attitude. Among other things, she recently spent most of her allowance on perfume, contrary to her mother’s instructions. Finally, the mother said to her daughter, "Didn't I tell you not to use so much perfume? I can smell it a mile away!" "But mom," the girl replied, "I love this perfume. It’s called 'Princess,' and when I wear 'Princess,' I feel like a Princess." To which the mother replied, "I wish you would wear one called 'Obedient.'"

Disobedience! Well-known to every parent, it's as common as the "common cold," and a condition for which there is no known, sure-fire cure. "So what else is new?" you may ask. All joking aside, we are learning there is a much more serious manifestation of disobedience known as "Oppositional Defiant Disorder." For parents of children diagnosed with this devastating psychological condition, every day can be like living in a war zone. Psychologist James Lehman, who developed a program to help parents deal with it says, "seemingly simple requests set off 'land mines' with these children because they have a marked inability to hear the word 'no,' and a determination to gain power in the home through constant arguing."

Sound familiar? Surely every parent has had to deal with some degree of defiant and rebellious behavior. In fact it can be a normal and healthy part of a child's development. But our hearts go out to any family faced with the struggle of this most extreme sort of behavioral problem. And fortunately, there is abundant research and resources available to help parents cope.

Of course there's at least a little rebellious and defiant streak in all of us. Just ask any married couple. And sometimes it's nothing more than what we might call "spunk." Take for example the story of the elderly woman, who very much with a mind of her own, returned home from the hospital after having undergone major surgery. Among other things, her doctor instructed her to take things easy for a while and, above all, not to go to [...]

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Stories you can use...

We've got a million of them (well, almost).

Marriage, Bible study, Children, Wedding

“He had made the water wine” (John 4:46). Asked to name her favorite Bible story, little six-year-old Juliet said it was the story of Jesus changing water into wine at the marriage feast in Cana. “What did you learn from the story?” the teacher asked. Instantly, Juliet replied, “When you have a wedding, it’s a good idea to have Jesus there.” That’s right, Juliet! When you have a wedding, it is a good idea to have Jesus there.

Memory, Experience, Learning, Wisdom

“The face of the Lord is against evildoers, to cut off the memory of them from the earth.” (Psalm 34:16). There is a story abut a man who owned an elephant around which he created a carnival act. He concluded each performance by offering a cash prize to anyone in the audience who could make the elephant do certain tricks. On one occasion, in an Ohio town, he announced, “I’ll give five hundred dollars to anyone who can make this elephant jump, nod its head up-and-down and shake it from side-to-side.” Whereupon, a man in an elegant three-piece suit and carrying a slick leather attache case stepped forward... The man opened the attache case and pulled out an inch-and-one-half roofing nail and a slingshot. He loaded the slingshot with the nail, and fired it into the elephant’s posterior. This caused the elephant to jump on his trainer, who was then taken to the hospital for a long, long stay. Months later, when the trainer had recovered from his injuries, he once again began to tour the carnival circuit with his elephant. Eventually, he was booked into a carnival in the same Ohio town where the elephant had attacked him. At the end of the first performance, he announced his usual challenge to the audience. Remembering the slingshot incident, however, he left out the part about making the elephant jump. “I’ll give five hundred dollars,” he said, “to anybody who can make this elephant nod his head up-and-down and shake it from side-to-side.” Again the man in the elegant three-piece suit stepped forward with his slick, leather attache case. He opened it, took out his slingshot and an inch-and-one-half roofing nail. “You see these?” he asked the elephant. Immediately, the elephant nodded its head up- and-down. “Do you want me to do it again?” Immediately the elephant shook its head from side-to-side — lending credence to the popular notion that “elephants never forget.”

Lord’s Prayer

A minister parked his car in a tow-away zone in a large city and attached the following message to his windshield: ”I have circled this block ten times. I have an appointment to keep. Forgive us our trespasses.” When he returned to his car he found this reply attached to his own note, along with a parking ticket: ”I’ve circled this block for ten years. If I don’t give you a ticket, I lose my job. Lead us not into temptation.”

Prayer, Faith, Sin

“All these will I bestow on You if you prostrate yourself in homage before me” (Matthew 4:8). A New York City pastor tells of the time when his parish was presented with a large supply of kneeling cushions. The donor suggested that a special ceremony be arranged to bless and dedicate the beautiful, ultra-soft cushions. The pastor felt a little uneasy about composing his own prayer for the ceremony, so he thumbed through a new, popular “Prayers-For-All-Occasions” book someone had given him. Although he didn’t find a kneeling-cushion prayer, nevertheless he did discover some other interesting prayers. Among them ... “Grace Before Outdoor Barbecues” “The Bird Watchers’ Prayer” “Prayer Over a Lottery Ticket” Such “prayers-for-all-occasions” to the contrary notwithstanding, we must remember that prayer is neither wishful thinking nor organized pious prattling. Said the New York City pastor: I suppose the real reason I didn’t trust myself with a prayer of my own composition is that deep-tufted, foam-rubbered kneeling cushions are obviously a symbol of softness where softness should not be. When we bend our knees before Almighty God, our kneecaps should experience enough hardness beneath them to signal our brains that facing Our Lord in an attitude of supplication was never meant to be easy ... It’s hard to realize that we are miserable sinners when our knees are sunk in foam rubber. It’s bad enough that our difficulties with reality can be soothed away by magic doses dispensed at the corner drug store. Let’s not have our knees tranquilized too. The Church sometimes forgets that its mission is not only to “comfort the afflicted” but also to “afflict the comfortable.” Christians will come through the “dark night of the soul” in a much healthier state if they count on faith instead of a pill or foam rubber to cushion the blow. At one point, the pastor almost decided to cancel the cushion dedication ceremony. But a friend made a suggestion that resulted in a happy compromise. In the pastor ’s words, “By accepting our wise friend’s suggestion, we decided to hold the ceremony. That is, we planned to dedicate the people instead of the cushions!” Lorge, E.J., “The Small Needle of Doctor Lorge,” Prentice Hall (Adapted).