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Thy Neighbor's Dog

The Kingdom of Heaven is like treasure hidden in a field
I Kings 3:5,7-12; Psalms 119:57,72,76-77,127-130; Romans 8:28-30; Matthew 13:44-52

Sermon Week Seventeenth Sunday in Ordinary Time Cycle A

Scripture Summary Matthew 13:44

In an honest bit of self-awareness, a man consumed with a constant level of anxiety confronts his struggle head-on during a life-changing moment of clarity. He explains:

"I used to complain a lot. I used to worry a lot. I used to feel frustrated a lot. I used to question my worthwhileness a lot. I used to agonize over my unrealized dreams a lot. But all that began to change through my neighbor's dog, of all things.

"That puppy was neglected, left tied outside to a leash all the time. Enslaved by a collar at the end of a rope, the frustrated animal cried day and night. Then one day, I saw that the dog was loose. Somehow the leash had broken, but the poor thing just lollygagged around as though it were still tied.

"I thought, 'This animal gets an opportunity to be free and doesn't take it. Then it doesn't deserve to be free.' Then an inner-voice spoke to me: 'That's you. You're looking at yourself.'

“This humbling revelation was the beginning of real freedom for me. My anxiety had taken me to a point in my life where I simply had to surrender the unrecoverable past and the unpredictable future to Divine Providence.

Edwin Teale, the naturalist writer, tells about a period of anxiety in his life during which he could not sleep. One night he decided to try the old remedy for insomnia: counting sheep. He says he went to bed and closed his eyes, but when the first sheep came along, it stumbled and fell. His state of mind was such that he became overly involved with the situation. Would someone come to help the sheep? How many more sheep would stumble over the fallen one? How much money would the shepherd lose as a result of the accident?

A pastor who is fond of telling that story always follows up with a story from his own life. "I was getting quite sick, physically," he says, "but I was unable to discover why this was happening.

“Finally, I went to a famous clinic in Boston for a week [...]


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