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Try To Be Kinder

He saw a large crowd; and He took pity on them and healed their sick (Matthew 14:14) Eighteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time

In his own inimitable style, baseball's Yogi Berra once said, "You should always go to other people's funerals, because if you don't, they might not go to yours."

And then there's the advice of another man with a very different approach to honoring the dead. With the exception of a few immediate family members -- this man never attended the funeral of any of his close friends or acquaintances. When asked why this was so, he said, "whenever I hear of the passing of someone I know, instead of attending the funeral, I go to visit someone living -- someone I know who is sick, or lonely or hurting in some way. In this way, I believe I am truly honoring the soul that has passed."

Now I am not suggesting that we stop attending funerals -- or attend them in the hopes that the departed will one day miraculously appear at our own -- but nevertheless, the point shouldn't be lost on us. Of course as a community of faith, one of the most important things that we do is honor those who have passed -- and offer our steadfast love and support to the grieving loved ones left behind. But as a community of faith -- because of our belief in the power and goodness of God and the examples of our Lord Jesus -- we must always be willing to answer His call to be kind and compassionate ministers of service to the living.

In the New York Times best seller based on the author's convocation address at Syracuse University, George Saunders writes, "here's something I know to be true: What I regret most in my life are failures of kindness. Those moments when another human being was there, in front of me, suffering and I responded, sensibly. Reservedly. Mildly."

The author continued, "Or to look at it from the other end of the telescope: Who, in your life, do you remember most fondly, with the most undeniable feelings of warmth? Those who were kindest to you, I bet."

And then, he offered, "It's a little simplistic, maybe, and certainly hard to [...]

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Stories you can use...

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

Crucifixion

In the rock musical, “Godspell,” whose very name is the old English word for gospel, Jesus is in the midst of crucifixion when a moving litany occurs. Jesus speaks, “O God, I’m bleeding.” The people respond, “O God, you’re bleeding.” Again Jesus speaks, “O God I’m dying.” The echo comes back, “O God, you’re dying.” Jesus speaks a third time, “O God I’m dead.” The response comes forth, “O God, you’re dead.” Next, the people gazing upon Jesus well up in an affirming chorus, “Long live God!”

War, Peace, Service

“God has chosen the foolish things of the world to shame the wise, and God has chosen the weak things of the world to shame the things which are strong” (I Corinthians 2:27). Columnist Erma Bombeck asked women for suggestions on how to terminate wars. Among the ideas that she received... Put the Post Office in charge of the war. It might not stop it, but it certainly would slow it down. Assign children to war zones and tell them they have to clear their rooms before they can go. One woman suggested having “Hawkeye” (Alan Alda) present a TV marathon consisting of reruns of scenes in the operating tent from the M*A*S*H anti-war satire. Alan Alda, of course, is the popular actor best-known for his starring role in M*A*S*H. The series portrayed a strange situation. The action is situated right in the middle of a tremendous effort to kill, injure and destroy human life. Tens of thousands of young men and women are there to fight...to kill...and, if necessary, to be killed. Some of them are there because, somehow, they like being in the middle of a war. Others are there because they have to be there. Still others are there because they sincerely believe it is the best way to serve their country. Amid this massive effort to kill, there is a small group of doctors and others whose main job is to save lives. As one of the M*A*S*H directors explained, this group is trying to patch people up in the midst of an overall situation where the purpose is destruction. Here they work against nearly overwhelming difficulties to help...to comfort...to heal...to save: TO SERVE. No wonder “Hawkeye” (played by Alan Alda) and the other characters in the group do crazy things. It’s as though they are making a statement that in a crazy situation, where values are upside-down, only a crazy person can act normal.

Righteousness

A man was telling his friend about the time not long ago when the people of the world had become so corrupt and immoral and degenerate and faithless, and conditions had become so intolerable, that St. Peter was alarmed. He discussed the people’s lack of faith with the Archangel Gabriel. “Perhaps we should send another flood to earth,” he said, “or even let the people destroy themselves with nuclear bombs.” Gabriel admitted that this might be necessary, but he did suggest, “According to your own statement, Peter, only about 70% of the population are unregenerate sinners, and the other 30% are righteous and trying hard to improve conditions.” “Since this 30% are righteous, and since they are right down in the thick of it all,” continued Gabriel, “they might have some ideas that have not occurred to us. Why don’t you write to them and see what suggestions they might have?” St. Peter agreed this was a good idea, so he composed a letter which he sent to the righteous 30%. “What do you think St. Peter said in this letter?” asked the man who was telling the story. After a moment’s hesitation, the friend admitted, “I don’t know! What did he write?” “Oh,” the man replied, “you didn’t get a letter?”

Preaching

A little boy was in the back yard when his father walked up and noticed the kid was building something. “What are you building?” he asked his son. The boy whispered to his dad, “I’m building a Church.” “Why are you whispering?” asked the father. The youngster said, “Because everybody’s asleep!”

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