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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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Love, Example, Parenting

Moms and Dads, if you want your children to grow up to love God and trust in God; if you want your children to love you and believe in you; if you want your children to love themselves, and believe in themselves, first you must communicate these feelings to them as your own. In the words of one loving father... “When you tuck them into bed, be sure to tell them that you love them just for being themselves. Say to them, ’I’m really the luckiest father (mother) in the world to have such marvelous children. I love you not because of your report card, or your talent, or because you’re going to do a good job, but simply because you are you.’ And remember, if this sounds much too simple, it gets far better results than do demands for obedience based on fear and intimidation. And the kids will go to sleep with a terrific feeling that, ’Gosh, I really am loved for just being me. ’ ’And that’s a healing touch for children...an experience of the Presence of the Holy Spirit of God in their lives.” What our children need now is under-exposure to the tribe of commercial exploitation and violence, and over-exposure to the Community of Love. In order to learn more about who they are, the children are watching us. They are searching for role models. If they can plainly see that God’s Holy Spirit of Love is in us, they’ll get a good picture of who they are and what they ought to aspire to. And they will no doubt believe — in Love!

World Hunger

Not long ago, an American businessman — a good, religious man — told of a trip he had just made to India. Like so many others who have travelled from their seats of comfort and security to the streets of Calcutta, he was appalled at the sight of so many suffering, literally starving people — young women and their babies. He had heard about it, but had never confronted the reality of it in any serious way. And as he passed one street corner with his group, he happened to glance at one particular mother, holding her baby, and begging. He saw that both mother and child had all the symptoms of malnutrition. Suddenly, his eyes met the woman’s, and they locked. “That young woman’s eyes,” he said, “were staring right into the depths of my soul. And they were saying to me, ‘BREAD FOR MY BABY, FOR GOD’S SAKE. FOR GOD’S SAKE, DO SOMETHING.’” Since that agonizing moment, that man has given much of his time, talent, and experience in several organized efforts to help the starving babies in India, Africa and other places around the world. “Whenever I am tempted to think that I’ve done enough,” he says, “that mother’s eyes come back to haunt me, and I can hear them saying, ‘For God’s sake, bread for my baby.’ And I know that I must continue.”

Prayer, Children, Responsibility

“Lord, teach us to pray…” (Luke 11:1). A mother heard her son saying his night prayers. He was telling God what he planned to do the next day and how God could help him do it. The mother interrupted, saying, “Son, don’t bother giving God instructions; just report for duty.”

Theology

There is an amusing story of three learned theologians who were brilliant, but terribly proud. The three died at the same time, so the story goes, and were standing together at the gate of heaven in the presence of the Lord. And the Lord said to them, “Before you may enter this gate, you will be required to answer this question: Who do you say that I am? “Well,” each of the three thought to himself, “this will be easier that I had imagined. After all, I spent the best years of my life working out the definitive, scientific answer to the ‘Who is God?’ question.” The three then proceeded, in turn, to answer the Lord’s question. “You are the Ground of All Being,” said the first. “You are the Ultimate Reality,” said the second. “You are the Essence of Existential Process,” said the third. To which the Lord replied...”Huh?” There was a definite failure in communication somewhere in that heavenly conversation. The proud theologians were so caught up in their own achievements, so turned in on themselves, that they were completely out of touch with God. They were unfulfilled because they had not yet learned to communicate in the heavenly language of the “blessed.” Consequently, their names were not yet “inscribed in heaven.”

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