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Make Us THAT Happy!

You must love the Lord your God ... you must love your neighbor as yourself (Matthew 22:37,38) Thirtieth Sunday in Ordinary Time

A recently married man received a letter and some photographs from an old friend. Among the photographs was a picture of a beautiful patio deck the friend had made with his own hands.

Impressed with his friend’s skills, the man began to feel inadequate since he knew he was “all thumbs” when it came to working with tools. Consequently, when he showed the picture to his wife, he asked, rather dejectedly, “But what do I make?” And without missing a beat, his wife answered, “You make me happy!”

With a very different take on happiness and marriage, a comedian quipped, “I didn't know what happiness was until I got married -- but then it was too late.” -1

In a cartoon from New Yorker magazine, a married couple are pictured, each seated in a comfortable chair, holding a drink. On the oval rug at their feet is the family dog, intently engaged in the business of chewing on a stick. Gazing at the pup, the wife wistfully says to her husband, "Ralph, make me THAT happy" (with the word THAT, underscored).

You can relate. We can all relate. Sometimes it does seem like our dogs (and for that matter, our cats) have it better than we do. No responsibilities. Nothing to do but eat, sleep and chew on the furniture. On those "dog days," when things don't seem to be going our way, we may jokingly say, "if only I could trade places with old Max I'd be much better off!" And as absurd as that seems, the real problem for the wife in that cartoon is that she wants her husband to wave some sort of magic wand and make her feel the kind of happiness and contentment she is trying to project onto the family pet. Now don't get me wrong -- it is in our relationships with others, especially our significant others that we fully develop into the kind of persons God intended us to be. As the psychologist Carl Jung wrote, "The unrelated human being lacks wholeness." Jung is asserting that wholeness only comes through relationship with another. However, [...]

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Stories you can use...

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

Attitude

S.I. Hayakawa, the great Japanese Christian who labored tirelessly for the poor, and the down-trodden, was visiting in Chicago. He was intrigued by the differences among motormen on the Indiana Avenue streetcar line in Chicago. "When the traffic was heavy," Hayakawa said, "some motormen would get steamed up with rage, clang their bells, and shout at the drivers. Other motormen, however, would sit and wait for minutes without impatience, whistling a tune, cleaning their fingernails, writing their reports. In other words, confronted with the same objective situation, some motormen lived a hellish life of anger and nervous tension; other motormen had a nice, relaxing job, with plenty of time for rest." The next time you're stuck in rush hour traffic or in a long line at the grocery store, stop and ask yourself, "Is this situation going to fill me with anger and tension, or can I take this opportunity to find the patience to RELAX?" "Sales Upbeat" (adapted).

Identity, Burden, Empathy

The famous playwright, Arthur Miller, once was asked to describe the difference between an ordinary play and a great drama. “In any successful play,” he said, “there must be something which makes the audience say to themselves, ’Good Lord, that’s me! That’s me!’” And that is exactly what Jesus’ words are evoking from us constantly. He says, “You lay impossible burdens on men, but will not lift a finger to lighten them” (Lk. 11:46). Good Lord, that’s me!

Growth

“Three times I was beaten with rods. Once I received a stoning. Three times I was shipwrecked; for a night and a day I was adrift at sea; on frequent journeys, in danger from rivers, danger from bandits, danger from my own people . . . “ (2 Cor 11:25-26.) A talented violinist was scheduled to play before a very critical audience. Although she had a fine instrument, she was not satisfied with the quality of its sound. So she said to her father, “This violin must yield its full resonance and vibration of tone. I’m going out to buy some tested strings.” When asked how these strings are tested, she replied, “First they’re put on a rack and stretched and strained to take all the vacillation out of them. Then they are hammered. Then they are put through a chemical test. This is what enables them to produce a perfect and full tone.” Later, when she attached the tested strings and tuned the instrument, the music was noticeably warmer and richer than before. As we set out to produce our own beautiful music by following the loving example of the Gracious God who created us, we are comforted in the certain knowledge that all of the stretching, and straining, and hammering we endure is part of the process of becoming the uniquely beautiful person God has intended each one of us to be. ”Our Daily Bread” (adapted).

Money

A young mother was watching a television news program with her eight-year-old son. The newscaster reported on the stock market, saying, “The value of the dollar is up.” The boy then turned to his mother and asked what the newscaster meant. The best explanation she could offer was that people could buy more with a dollar than they previously were able to. The son thought for a few moments and then asked, “Do the stores know about this?”

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