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the last will be first, and the first, last (Matthew 20:16) Twenty-Fifth Sunday in Ordinary Time

You probably heard the news story that Pope Francis will visit the Philippines in January, 2015. But you may not have heard this story of the Pope's earlier visit to New York City. It seems His Holiness was traveling to a much anticipated, historic meeting with the Secretary General of the United Nations, and restless from his long journey, was eager to arrive at New York's John F. Kennedy Airport. As the the pilot started his approach, due to unsafe wind conditions, he was instead instructed to land at Newark Airport in New Jersey. When the plane finally touched down, the Pope, now a bit agitated, was whisked away in a limousine to his meeting. With only minutes to spare, he sat anxiously in the back seat of the vehicle. “Can you drive a bit faster my son?” the Pope gently asked the chauffeur. “I’m terribly sorry Your Holiness,” the limousine driver begged, “but I can’t afford another speeding ticket. I already have been warned that if I receive one more violation I will lose my license.”

The Pope responded sympathetically to the worried driver, then asked him to stop the car. To the chauffeur’s astonishment, the Pope got out of the limousine, tapped on the driver’s door and told him that he would drive the rest of the way. The driver moved to the back seat and the Pope got behind the wheel. Driving much faster than the chauffeur would have dared, the Pontiff darted in and out of traffic, narrowly missing several parked cars. Observing the speeding limousine, a police officer promptly signaled the vehicle to pull over. “Let me handle this one,” the officer announced to his partner. “Before I’m through with this guy he’ll have at least five tickets!”

After only a minute, the visibly shaken officer returned to his squad car with his ticket book still unopened. “You didn’t write him a single ticket?” his partner protested. “What happened?”

“I couldn’t write him a ticket,” the first officer said sheepishly. “This guy is a big shot, I mean, a really big shot!”

“Who was it?” his partner [...]

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Stories you can use...

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

Parenting

A mother took her son to a child psychiatrist. The boy was having all sorts of problems trying to make his growing up situation more tolerable. After seeing the boy, the doctor said to the mother, “Now, I’m going to see Johnny again next month but, meanwhile, you will need some help getting through this difficulty. I’m going to give you these tranquilizers to be administered three times a day, and I’ll see you again next month when you bring the boy back.” Next month came, and the mother took Johnny back to the doctor. “How has he been getting along?” the doctor asked. “Who cares,” the mother replied.

Present Moment

“For the Kingdom of God is not food and drink but righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit.” Romans 14:17 Henry David Thoreau (1817-1862), the New England Yankee social critic who wrote “Walden,” one of the American classics, rebelled at the intrusion of government and social institutions on man’s life. When he was twenty-seven, Thoreau moved from his home in Concord, Massachusetts to nearby Walden Pond where he built a small cabin. He spent two years there, living his way into each moment of the day, trying to be totally present to each simple thing that was happening. In “Walden,” Thoreau reflects his extraordinary delight in life, his rare ability to find real joy in the ordinary, simple things in life. He didn’t merely swim or fish or raise beans or play the flute or take hikes or read books or talk to friends, he entered into the experience — listening, noticing, paying attention, marvelling, enjoying. At the age of forty-five, Thoreau was stricken with tuberculosis. During the months of what we would now call “terminal illness,” the lesson of the pricelessness of each moment of life he had learned at Walden Pond was confirmed for him. When one of his friends tried to engage him in speculation about life after death, Thoreau is reported to have said, “One world at a time!”

Faith

A young boy was asked, in religion class, to define “faith.” He said, “Faith is believing what you know isn’t true.” His definition is wrong all the way through. Faith is accepting. Faith is receiving. Faith is accepting the Gospel Truth that “everyone who loves is born of God and knows God” (I John 4:7). Faith is receiving and cherishing the Good News that “God has first loved us” (I John 4:10).

Preaching

A certain, highly-gifted preacher often spiced his sermons with humor drawn from his collection of well-intentioned responses to his preaching over the years. For example, he told of the woman who came up to him and said, “Your sermons are marvelous; each one is better than the next.” Another admirer said to him, “You are always good, but this sermon was superfluous.” To which he replied, with tongue in cheek, “Thank you. I hope to have it published posthumously.” “That’s wonderful,” said the straight-faced admirer, “I hope it will be soon.”

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