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Attitude And Approach

The passers-by jeered at him; they shook their heads and said, 'Aha! ... Then save yourself; come down from the Cross! (Mark 15:29-30) Passion Sunday

Some years ago it was a fairly common practice for couples divorcing to post certain notices in the legal section of their local newspaper. One such classified was followed a week later by this startling notice. It read: "I would like to announce that the ad I put in this newspaper last Saturday was in error. I WILL be responsible for any debts incurred by my wife, and I will start paying as soon as I get out of the HOSPITAL."

Now there was a man who changed, but only under great pressure. Many of us are like that. It is only when the pressure is great enough that we let go.

When Jesus comes into our lives offering us wholeness of life, we have to be willing to let go. We have to be willing to change. We have to be willing to give up some of our security. We have to be willing to take risks. And this is the point at which our stubborn disobedience gets us into trouble. We bristle at the invitation to venture out into something new, and we reject it. As we are reminded in Jesus' Sermon on the Mount, "Everyone then who listens to these words of mine and acts on them will be like a sensible man who built his house upon rock ... But everyone who listens to these words of mine and does not act on them will be like a stupid man who built his house on the sand" (Mt. 7:24,26). Like the foolish man who built his house on the shifting sands of disobedience, when the storms come, our house will come crashing down.

In today's story of Christ's Passion, the Gospel writers give us the supreme example of what the obedience of Faith really means. Jesus is in the garden of Gethesemane. He is agonizing over what lies ahead for Him. "My soul is sorrowful to the point of death," He says to the disciples present (Mk. 14:34). Then He prays, "My Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me; nevertheless, not as I [...]

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Apostles, Evangelism, Fishers of Men

“Come after Me and I will make you fishers of men” (Matthew 4:19). There is a little story (it’s only a story) in which Jesus decides that He is ready to choose His twelve Apostles. He rules out ordinary methods of advertising as inadequate. Consequently, He decides to stage an Olympics from which the twelve would be chosen. Participants come from all over and the competition is fierce . . . First comes the Olympic “Prayer Event.” All the contestants have practiced long and hard as evidenced by the speed with which they recite prayer after prayer. Some try to impress Jesus with big words. Some use lofty words. Others emphasize pious words. But Jesus selects none of them. They recited just words: their hearts weren’t in it. Next comes the “Worship Event.” These contestants too are well-prepared. Some are wearing very colorful, garments. Some present beautiful music. Some emphasize showy gestures. But, again, Jesus chooses none of them. They performed with precision, but their hearts weren’t in it. Then comes the “Teaching Event.” These contestants also are well-prepared. Some bring elaborate posters. Some come with well-written talks. Some organize group discussions. But, again, there are no winners. Jesus selects none of them. They demonstrated a variety of teaching methods — but their hearts weren’t in it. And so the Olympics ended. No winners. No Apostles. Exhausted, and a bit exasperated by the event, Jesus goes down to the seaside to cool off and relax. There he sees some fisherman casting their nets, and He is greatly impressed by their attitude and approach to the task before them. Here are some men who know how to put their hearts into their work. And so Jesus chooses them to be His Apostles: “Fishers of Men.” “No Heart” by Paul J. Wharton (adapted)

Christian Commitment

“...you belong to Christ, and Christ belongs to God” (I Cor. 3:23). “What does it mean to be a Christian?” asks author William McNamara. He answers, “It means that Christ holds the central position in your life. It means that you are haunted and hounded day-in and day-out by His beauty, ever-ancient, ever-new . . . all of our troubles come from not keeping our eyes on Christ. Being a Christian means that we make all our decisions and all our plans in terms of Christ.” Francois Mauriac, the French writer/philosopher wrote, “Once you know Him, you cannot be cured of Him.” J.D. Salinger, author of “Catcher in the Rye,” summarized it beautifully. He said, “See Christ and you are a Christian. All else is talk.” Each week, when we come together as a worshipping community, we are given the opportunity to confront these questions: “What does being a Christian mean to you? Do you love Christ? Do you make all of your decisions, all of your plans, in terms of Christ? Is it in Christ that you find strength to live your life with integrity, day-in and day-out?”

Today

“A day is a miniature eternity,” wrote Ralph Waldo Emerson. Each new day is a whole world within itself. It can make a world of difference in the life God has given each of us. In those 24 hours, one can plot a course that will shape his or her whole life and destiny. In those 1440 minutes . . . There are blessings to be received. There is bread to sustain life. There are opportunities to be grasped. There are challenges to be accepted. There is internal peace to quiet nerves. There is time to make amends. There is vision to look ahead. There is grace to rejoice in fellowship. There is grace to experience God’s Presence. Today, this day, — seize it, use it, live it, rejoice in it. It is more valuable than money — no amount of money will buy another day. Treasure it as if your life depended on it — and it very well could. Brownlow, L. “Give Us This Day.” (Adapted)

Faith

“I will extol You, my God and King and bless Your Name forever and ever . . On the glorious splendor of Your majesty and on Your wondrous works I will meditate” (Psalms 145:1,5) During a visit to Italy, I drove out one glorious afternoon to a famous monastery in the hills near Fiesole. I visited the beautiful 15th-century Church, examined the exquisite illuminated manuscripts and viewed the magnificent works of art — all “raised to the honor and glory of the Lord.” Later, wandering into the monastery garden, I discovered the greatest treasure of them all. There I fell into conversation with an old man, a gentle soul, bent with toil and rheumatism, yet still bright of eye. For more than 30 years had tilled that patch of earth, making work his constant prayer. Answering the question I carried inside, he pointed to the orchard and said, “I see my cherry trees in bud, and then I see them in flower, and then I see them in fruit. And then I believe in God.” Cronin, A.J., “Why I Believe in God.” (adapted).

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