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All Too Human

For where two or three meet in My Name, I shall be there with them (Matthew 18:20) Twenty-Third Sunday in Ordinary Time

It happened not long ago, but for most, the events that began that day have faded from memory. Citizens the world-over desperately waiting for a sliver of hope. Prayers pouring in from every corner of the globe. Offers of financial and technical assistance increasing by the minute. The high drama portrayed in living color on nightly newscasts, touching countless millions. Most of all, the spirit of brotherhood and compassion exhibited by people of virtually every nation -- an inspiring testimony to the better angels of our nature.

For the thirty-three trapped Chilean miners, the nightmare that began that day culminated with a rescue that was nothing short of a miracle. A few awful seconds in the afternoon of August 5th, 2010 would forever change the lives of the men working at the San Jose Mine. Hours earlier, a group of miners, drenched in sweat and covered with soot, assembled in one of the caverns. Their night shift over, the crew waited for a truck that would transport them on the forty-five-minute drive to the surface. That morning, they noted a rumbling in the distance, the sound of tons of rock falling in long-forgotten caverns deep inside the mountain. The mine is "weeping a lot," the men said to one another. A few mentioned the rumblings to their brother miners arriving for the next shift, but there was no real sense of alarm.

And then it happened. Around 1 PM, they heard the deafening roar -- like a skyscraper coming down behind them -- a single block of granite, as tall as a forty-five-story building had broken loose and was falling through the vast layers of the mine, pancaking the levels below. One miner said the blast from the exploding rock created such a pressure between his ears that it felt like his skull was a balloon being inflated. Others ran for their lives, saying it was like crossing a bridge, swaying violently in the wind. And when it was all over, the men realized that ten levels of their escape ramp had been wiped out. Incredibly, the rock that had fallen [...]

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Stories you can use...

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

Stewardship, Generosity, Giving

There once was a farmer who was well-known for his generosity. His friends could not understand how he could give so much and yet remain able to give even more. “We cannot understand how you do it,” they said. “You give far more than any of the rest of us, and yet you always seem to have more to give.” To which the farmer replied, “Oh, that is easy to explain. You see, I keep shoveling into God’s bin, and God keeps shoveling back into mine — and God has the bigger shovel.” John Bunyan put it this way: A man there was and they called him mad the more he gave, the more he had.

Worry, Death, Peace, Release

“Can any of you, for all his worrying, add one single cubit to his life?” (Matthew 6:27). Norman Vincent Peale tells the story of a woman who came to him for counseling. She was filled with anxiety and fear — “worried almost out of her senses,” Dr. Peale says. It seems that she had suffered a minor heart attack a few months earlier and, even though she had made a good recovery, she was overwhelmed by the fear that she might die at any moment. She kept talking compulsively about this fear until, finally, Dr. Peale held out his hand, palms up, and said, “Put it there!” “Put what there?” the woman asked. “Your problem,” Peale said. “This thing that is worrying you, I know it’s invisible, but I also know that it’s very real. I want you to stretch out your hand and place it in mine.” The woman hesitated. Then she put her hand in his. Whereupon, Dr. Peale got up, walked to the door, opened it and made a gesture to indicate that he was throwing out the woman’s fear. Then, he said, “The problem is no longer in the room. It’s outside the door. We need to deal with it, and we will deal with it. But first we’re going to fill the place inside you where that problem was with some thoughts of God and faith and hope. We’re going to saturate your mind with the peace that Jesus Christ promised to all of us. And you will find that these thoughts are stronger than worry, stronger than fear.” Dr. Peale’s gesture of throwing the woman’s fear of death out the door was only symbolic, of course. We’d love to be able to throw out all our troubles in some miraculous way. But we haven’t the power. What we can do, is allow our minds and hearts to be saturated with the Presence of the One who has such power.

Happiness

Many years ago, in the cornerstone of its new office building, a large insurance company buried a capsule containing a number of predictions by community leaders as to what life in the United States would be like in fifty years. Among the forecasts was one by a leading industrialist. He made some eyebrow-raising predictions concerning population, the economy and living standards. Then he added this wise reminder: “Fifty years from now, and five hundred years from now, men and women will still struggle for happiness — which will continue to lie within themselves.”

Light, Birth, Truth

“ . . . but the man who lives by the truth comes into the Light. He who does what is true comes to the Light, that it may be clearly seen that his deeds have been wrought in God” (John. 3:21). In Swedish folklore there is the story of a country doctor who went out to a farmhouse one night where a woman was about to give birth. As the woman labored, the doctor asked her husband to assist him by holding a gas lantern up high in order to illuminate the makeshift delivery room. Before long, the courageous mother delivered a wonderful, healthy baby boy. Then the doctor made a surprise announcement: “A second child is due to arrive.” Whereupon the mother produced a wonderful, healthy baby girl. The husband was considerably shaken by the unexpected birth of twins. You can imagine, therefore, his complete astonishment when he heard the doctor say, “We’re not finished here yet. It looks like it’s going to be triplets.” To which the stunned father, still holding the lantern aloft, replied, “It must be the the light that’s attracting them.”

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