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Bible Diary 2020

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สถิติเยี่ยมชม (เริ่ม 22-02-2012)

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2020-08-04 10:40


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29th Sunday of the Year
Isaiah 53:10–11; Hebrews 4:14–16; Mark 10:35–45

Bread and Water
We must imitate Jesus, who came not to be served by others,
but to serve them.

The last sentence in today’s gospel is one of the most remarkable sentences in all Scripture. Let’s listen to it again:
“The Son of Man did not come to be served; he came to serve and to give his life to redeem many people.” Mark 10:45
Few sentences in Scripture sum up the life of Jesus so perfectly.

When the great Japanese Christian Kagawa first heard about the life of Jesus, he cried out,
“O God, make me like your Christ!”

To be more like Christ,
Kagawa left a comfortable home and went to live in the slums of Tokyo. There he shared himself and his possessions with whoever needed help.

In his book Famous Life Decisions, Cecil Northcott says
that Kagawa once gave away all this clothing. He was left standing in only a tattered kimono. On another occasion,
even though deathly sick, he continued to preach to people in a rain, repeating over and over: “God is love! God is love!
Where love is, there is God.”

William Barclay gives us an insight into the heart and mind of Kagawa when he quotes the great man as saying:

“God dwells among the lowliest of men. . . .
He is there with beggars.
He is among the sick,
he stands with the unemployed. Therefore let him who would meet God visit the prison cell before going to the temple.

Before he goes to church let him visit the hospital.
Before he reads his Bible let him help the beggar.”

When we read about someone like Kagawa,
we find ourselves wondering,
How can we live out the Gospel more seriously in our own lives?

We find ourselves wondering,
How can we imitate more closely Jesus’ life of service to others?

We find ourselves asking,
What can we do to be more Christian in our own homes and work situations?

Of course, no one can answer those questions for us.
They are questions that we alone can answer.

Moreover, there are as many answers to each question
as there are people here this morning.

The worst thing we can do, however, is to say,
“I can’t move to the slums of Tokyo and do what Kagawa did.” And having said that, we proceed to do nothing.

Just because we can’t do something courageous or dramatic
doesn’t mean we can’t do anything at all.
All of us can do something—be it ever so small and insignificant. And the place to start is in our own homes.

If we start there, chances are we will find ways to expand our service beyond the home. But if we don’t start there,
chances are we will never start anywhere.

One of the most moving examples of starting in the home
is a story that appeared some time ago in Leadership magazine.

A boy was consistently coming home late from school.
There was no good reason for his tardiness,
and no amount of discussion seemed to help.

Finally, in desperation,
the boy’s father sat him down and said:

“The next time you come home late from school you are going to given bread and water for your supper—and nothing else.
Is that perfectly clear, son?”

The boy looked straight into his father’s eyes and nodded.
He understood perfectly.

A few days later the boy came home even later than usual.
His mother met him at the door but didn’t say anything.
His father met him in the living room,  but he didn’t say anything either.

That night, however, when they sat down together at table, the boy’s heart sank down to his feet.

His father’s plate was filled with food, and his mother’s plate was filled with food. But his own plate contained only a single slice of bread. Next to his plate was a lonely glass of water.

The boy’s eyes stared first at the bread,
then at the glass of water. This was the punishment his parents had warned him about. To make matters worse, tonight he was absolutely starving.

J. Allan Peterson, who tells the story,
describes what happened next.

“The father waited for the full impact to sink in,
then, quietly took the boy’s plate and placed it in front of himself. He took his own plate . . .
and put it in front of the boy.”

The boy understood what his father was doing.
His father was taking upon himself the punishment that he, the boy, had brought upon himself by his own delinquent behavior.

Years later that same boy recalled the incident and said:

“All my life I’ve known what God is like by what my father did that night.”

That story illustrates perfectly what Jesus meant when he said in today’s gospel, “The Son of Man . . . came . . .
to give his life to redeem many people.” Mark 10:45

Jesus came into the world to do for us what that father did for his son. He came to pay the price for our sinfulness.
And the price he paid was his own death on the cross.
By way of conclusion, then, today’s gospel holds out a challenge to us. It challenges us to give our lives in loving service for others, as Jesus did for us.

And the best place to start doing this is in our own homes and work situations. If we start in these places,
chances are we will expand our loving service into other areas.

In time, we may even find ourselves serving others as generously as did Kagawa in the slums of Tokyo.
We may even find ourselves serving others as generously as did the father in the story of the delinquent son.

But before we can hope to fly, we must first learn to walk.
And so today’s gospel is an invitation to walk.

It’s an invitation to begin serving one another, right now,
in our own family and work situations.

It’s an invitation to begin imitating Jesus, who said:

“The Son of Man did not come to be served; he came to serve and to give his life to redeem many people.” Mark 10:45

Series II
29th Sunday of the Year
Isaiah 53:10–11; Hebrews 4:14–16; Mark 10:35–45

Gus and Ruth
Service and suffering go together like two rails of a train track.

Awoman named Ruth was walking out of church one Sunday morning. She spotted an old man struggling to put on his coat. She walked over, smiled, and gave him a hand.

Some time later she saw him again. This time they struck up a conversation. She learned that she passed the old man’s apartment on her way home, so she gave him a ride.
That began a weekly routine that lasted for two years.

Then one Sunday Gus didn’t show up at church. Ruth went to his one-room apartment and found him deathly sick.
He entered the hospital the next day.

A few days later Ruth got a call from a nurse at the hospital.
Gus was dying. He had only a day or so to live.
“Have you informed his relatives?’’ Ruth asked.

“He has no relatives,’’ the nurse replied.
“You are the only person he told us to notify in case of emergency.’’ Ruth was shocked.
“Was Gus really that alone?’’

She hurried to the hospital. When she arrived at his bedside,
Gus was breathing hard and unable to speak. He did, however, seem to recognize her. And his eyes did seem to respond to her words of love and comfort. A few minutes later Gus died.

That story dramatizes in a moving way the two themes of today’s Scripture readings, especially the gospel reading. Those themes are suffering and service.
Suffering and service are like the two rails of a train track.
Where you find one, you find the other. The two go hand in hand.

They do this for three reasons.

First, service always entails suffering. You can’t help another
without making some sacrifice on your part. We see this in the story of Ruth and Gus. For two years Ruth sacrificed for Gus.
Granted it wasn’t a great sacrifice; still it was a sacrifice.

A second reason that suffering and service go together is that God always invites those who suffer to put their suffering at the service of others. God always invites them to use their suffering in a spiritual way. God always invites them to unite their suffering to the suffering of Jesus.

Gus did that in the story. He suffered from old age and loneliness. But he didn’t let that suffering go to waste.
He continued to pray to God. He continued to unite his suffering to the suffering of Jesus. In doing this, he served the Body of Christ in a spiritual way, even though the other members of the body were unaware of it.

Finally, there is a third reason that service and suffering go together. It is so obvious that we tend to overlook it.
They go together because one of the simplest ways we can help others is to try to lighten the load of their suffering.

But we tend to forget this. We forget that the simplest and easiest way to serve others is to try to reduce the burden of their suffering.

This is the way that Ruth served Gus. It is also the way that Jesus served his suffering brothers and sisters.

So let’s take a closer look at how we can serve those around us—especially members of our own families—by trying to lighten the load of their suffering.

Perhaps our biggest obstacle to doing this is our insensitivity to suffering people around us. An illustration will help.

Helen Keller was blind, deaf, and dumb. When somebody asked her what caused her the greatest suffering—her blindness, her deafness, or her dumbness—she replied without hesitation, “My deafness.’’

She explained that when you are deaf,
your biggest door to the everyday world closes on you.
You can’t communicate with people around you.
You can’t hear their simplest statements.
You can’t understand their simplest questions.
You feel left out and abandoned.
You feel like Gus did in the story.

But there’s an even sadder side to it.

When you’re blind, you carry a white cane. People know that you’re blind and treat you with special concern. On the other hand, when you’re deaf, there is no sign that you carry.
So people don’t treat you in a special way.

Often they treat you worse than usual because you don’t respond to them. They think you are ignoring them.
And so you suffer even more.

It’s this kind of suffering that is especially hard to bear.
It’s this kind of suffering that we need to become more aware of.
It’s this kind of suffering that Gus endured.
Nobody was aware of how alone he was.

There are two ways we can cultivate a keener awareness of this kind of suffering.

One way is to begin making a conscious effort to focus on the needs of others rather than on our own problems and needs.

In the Great Depression of the 1930s government agents used to travel through the Tennessee mountain area,
making on-the-spot appraisals of the needs of impoverished farmers. And they would give them on-the-spot money to buy food or to make necessary repairs.

One agent found a woman in a cabin. It had a dirt floor and several broken windows. He said to her,
“If I gave you a government check for $200,
how would you use the money?’’
She thought a moment and said,
“I reckon I’d give it to the poor people in these here mountains.’’

That old woman had developed the art of focusing on the needs of others rather than on her own needs and problems.

Asecond way we can cultivate an awareness of the suffering of others is through prayer.

Prayer has a remarkable way of making us sensitive to suffering as no other exercise does. Try it for just one month, and you’ll discover this firsthand. Try praying just one prayer daily for the gift of sensitivity to others, and you’ll see what
I mean.

And an ideal daily prayer to pray is the prayer of Saint Francis:

Lord, make me an instrument of your peace.
Where there is hatred let me sow love;
where there is injury, pardon;
where there is despair, hope;
where there is darkness, light; and where there is sadness, joy.

Grant that I may not so much seek to be consoled as to console;
to be understood as to understand; to be loved as to love;
for it is in giving that we receive; it is in pardoning that we are pardoned; and it is in dying that we are born into eternal life.

Series III
29th Sunday of the Year
Isaiah 53:10–11, Hebrews 4:14–16, Mark 10:35–45

Christian service
A yardstick of our faith and love.

The Son of Man did not come to be served.” Mark 10:45

Dr. Bill Magee and his wife, Kathy, decided to do some volunteer work among the very poor in the Philippines.

The experience touched them deeply. When they returned home, they formed a nonprofit volunteer organization called “Operation Smile.”

It provides free corrective surgery for poor children, especially those with cleft palates and facial tumors.

One in every 500 children in poor nations suffers from some facial deformity. Too often the families of these children isolate them from public notice.

Since its inception, “Operation Smile” has funded and staffed 23 two-week missions a year in 12 different countries.
It also conducts ongoing volunteer programs in 25 American cities.

When “Operation Smile” announces its presence in a developing country, people ride donkeys, paddle canoes up jungle rivers, or simply walk for miles to seek help.

Kathy says that she and Bill were both raised in Catholic families, who taught and inspired them to do this kind of service outreach to the most needy of God’s people.
The Magees have passed on that same spirit to their children. Kathy says:

We took the eldest on the first mission. Since then, all five of our children have served as volunteers on medical teams.
Retold from “Changing the world . . . one smile at a time,”
“Premiere” issue, Biography magazine (1997)

The story of the Magees brings us to the theme of today’s Gospel. Jesus puts it this way:
“The Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve.”

Christian service is not just the theme of today’s Gospel.
It is the criterion by which each of us will be judged at the end
of our lives on earth. Jesus put it this way:

“When the Son of Man comes as King . . .
he will divide [the people of all the nations] into two groups. . . . [To those] on his right he will say, ‘Come . . .
I was hungry and you fed me. . .
 naked and you clothed me.’ . . .

“To those on his left [he will say], ‘Away . . .
I was hungry but you would not feed me . . .
naked but you would not clothe me.’ . . .

“Whenever you refused to help one of these least . . .
 you refused to help me.” Matthew 25:31–45 passim

The Letter of James puts it this way:

What good is it for one of you to say that you have faith if your actions do not prove it? Can faith save you?
Suppose there are brothers or sisters who need clothes
and don’t have enough to eat.

What good is there in your saying to them,
“God bless you! Keep warm and eat well!”—if you don’t give them the necessities of life?

So it is with faith: if it is alone and includes no actions,
then it is dead. James 2:16–17

Thus, for James, our service to the needy is a kind of
“CAT scan” of our faith to determine if it is alive or dead.

An interesting footnote here is the research of
Dr. Kubler-Ross at the University of Chicago.

Her interviews with hundreds of patients in terminal or
near-death situations led her to this remarkable conclusion
about such people. She says:

When you come to this point,
there are only two things that are relevant: the service you have rendered to others and love.

How does all this apply to our lives?

I like the way Dr. Albert Schweitzer, the missionary doctor to Africa, answered that question. He said:

I have always held firmly to the thought that each of us can do something to bring to an end some portion of the world’s misery.

We may not have the talent or resources to do something similar to what the Magees are doing. But that’s not the point.
The point is this: God has given each of us some way to serve God’s people.

You may ask, “How can a person dying from cancer in a nursing home do anything to serve God’s people?”

Today’s first reading answers that question. In a prophetic reference to the suffering of Jesus, God says that through his servant’s suffering many shall be justified.

Applying this to an elderly person dying of cancer in a nursing home, we may say, “United to Jesus’ suffering on the cross, the suffering of the elderly person can perform a huge service for God’s people.”

You may recall the example of actor Gary Cooper,
who entered the Catholic Church just a few years before his death.

In the final months of his life, he began to experience intense pain from his cancer. Msgr. Cunningham, his pastor,
gave him a small steel crucifix, saying:

“Gary, hang on to this tight. When the pain gets really bad,
squeeze it to remind yourself to unite your pain with the pain of Jesus for the salvation of souls.” That crucifix never left Gary’s hand from that moment until he died.

And so all of us, regardless of our situation,
must find a way to serve the needy.

The TV celebrity Art Linkletter used to suggest this handy guide for those would like to get started but don’t know how:

Do a little more than you need to; Give a little more than you have to; Try a little harder than you want to; Aim a little higher than you think possible.

Let us close with another handy guide for serving the needy. It spells out in fuller detail the spirit of Art Linkletter’s guide. Better yet, it puts it in prayer form.

Lord, make me an instrument of your peace.

Where there is hatred, let me sow love;
where there is injury, pardon;
where there is doubt, faith;
where there is despair, hope;
where there is darkness, light; and where there is sadness, joy.

Grant that I may not so much seek to be consoled as to console;
to be understood as to understand; to be loved as to love;
for it is in giving that we receive; it is in pardoning that we are pardoned; and it is in dying that we are born into eternal life.


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