Value Of The Entrusted

82a55fa6c5f25cd44c62f0488719c6bc“When they led Him away, they seized a man, Simon of Cyrene, coming  in from the country, and placed on him the cross behind Jesus.” – Luke 23:26

Jesus, as God, is not subject to coincidence. When he called down Zacharias from the tree, summoned the apostles to secure the colt for Him to ride triumphantly into Jerusalem at Passover, told Peter that he would betray Him and dismissed Judas from the Passover meal to go and do what he must do quickly, He did so by His omnipotent foreknowledge. And it is by it that He here now assigns Simon of Cyrene the role that would make him honored among men by sacrificing something of himself for his savior who was about to sacrifice everything for the forgiveness of sins and open wide the gates of heaven that had been sealed since man and woman first said no to God.

Many of us suffer some strife, whether temporary or chronic, that tests us physically, mentally or spiritually. Those who must bear such burdens may cry out: “Lord, why me?” Then there are those who may never know suffering or trials of any significance until they approach their death beds. And from these there may be heard the bewildered query: “Lord, why not me?” The question, in all truth, should be; “Lord why don’t you trust me?”

Our Lord tells us to take up our cross and follow Him. Those who have none to carry must wonder if they are trusted enough by God to do just that. Is it for this reason that God does not place upon some shoulders a cross of substantial weight? Or perhaps is there another reason? God has created an ordered universe. And for it to be ordered there must be balance.

If there are to be the weak and suffering among us would it not be just that there should be the strong and well to bring all into balance? God commands us to care for our brothers. If that command is to be fulfilled then there must be the strong to help the weak. Since there exists the dying in the streets of Calcutta, there must then be a Mother Teresa to nurse, nurture and comfort them. There must be the strong in life to instill in the weak that life has purpose, meaning and that it is valuable. Some must do for those, who by God’s will, cannot do for themselves. Those who need care will find God’s favor by bearing their burdens well and becoming an inspiration to others. Those caregivers who help them to achieve that end will receive equal grace. For all who observe this balance in play of those needing care and those providing care will be better for it. And through this display of order is shown that justice and charity can be found in this world; and that the witnesses thereof whose hearts are transformed will too be rewarded.

Christ was trusted with the cross as He bore the sins and sufferings of the world. Simon, in fine physical condition, was entrusted to help Our Lord carry His cross. Simon thought the cross only wood. But, in reality, it was saturated with the suffering, pain, weaknesses, sins, sorrows and regrets of all mankind. Only a God could bear such a burden. Yet Simon was able to carry it as well. Christ said: “Come to me all who are weary and heavy-laden and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me. For my yoke is easy and my burden light.” As our burdens in life are manageable when joined to Christ’s cross, so too was Simon able to manage the cross that was also joined with Christ. One can not calculate the value of grace received by Simon for his role when our savior’s hour had come.

Christ Himself exemplified the entrusted as he sighed when he healed the blind, lame and those possessed by demons.  He felt power leave Him when the women suffering from hemorrhaging touched his robe in faith. And He groaned when He raised Lazarus from the dead. He is the divine caregiver who possesses not only the power to heal the sick and feed the poor but to release sinners from the death sentence that no long would bar them from eternal life. And what caregiver does not feel fatigue and the pain of empathy in the execution of their duty. In that they show themselves to be Christ-like. For we the well and capable are the channels of Christ empowered by Him to continue His good works in serving the unfortunate through faith and trust in Him.

Whether we are in the position to help one or millions all is the same in the sight of God. For care given to a loved one or a stranger is given to Christ. The grace received by Simon of Cyrene can be granted to anyone who performs good deeds for the sake of a brother or sister to whom God has so entrusted.


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“And he shall say to you, I Know you not, whence ye are: depart from me,” – Luke 13:27

My bother had just returned home  from the doggie salon with Bridget, his pet dog, a Shih Tzu. He opened the gate to the back yard where her companion, Maggie, a mixed Dalmatian, another pooch owned by my brother, was lounging on the lawn. When Bridget entered the yard Maggie behaved strangely. She walked circles around Bridget sniffing as she kept her distance. My mom called Bridget to climb up to the deck floor so she could see her new hair cut. Bridget, however, just sat at the base of the stairs looking at my mom as though she had two heads. While we all puzzled over the strange event that we were witnessing the phone rang. It was the doggie salon asking to speak with my brother. It seems there was a lady who had just arrived to pick up her dog claiming that the dog did not belong to her. It just so happened that the lady’s dog was of the same breed as Bridget. Yes, you guessed it, my brother brought home the wrong dog.

No wonder Maggie acted so strangely toward her little chum. It wasn’t her chum at all. My brother immediately returned to the doggie salon and made the switch. As the real Bridget entered the back yard she was now not avoided by an incredulous Maggie, but rather was warmly welcomed with a lick from her friend. Maggie now recognized her life long pal and was judged to be bona-fide. And by that recognition she was enthusiastically received with open arms; I mean paws.

What is judgment? Judgment is recognition: recognition from our point of view and recognition from God’s point of view. It is recognition, first of all, from our point of  view. Suppose that we are cleaning our house when a distinguished visitor is announced. We will say, “Oh, I am not clean, wait until I wash up and dress.” That’s the way we are when we go before the sight of God: let me clean up a bit. Recognition is also from God’s point of view. Grace is the similarity of our nature to God’s nature. St. Peter says: “We are partakers of God’s nature.” Just as our parents know us because we share their nature, so God looks upon us. If He sees His nature in us, then He will say, “Come ye blessed of my Father. I am the natural Son; you are the adopted son. Come unto the kingdom prepared for you.” If, however, he looks and does not see that likeness of nature, as a mother knows the neighbor’s child is not her own, so the lord will say, “I know you  not.” It is a terrible thing not to be known by God. – Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen

What is that likeness of nature that Archbishop Sheen speaks of? It is that which is found on the cross. A man whom we deemed to be suffering from punishment for some wrong done. In relation to the world he was a criminal. And His crime was to be unworldly. As we look upon Him we see pain instead of pleasure. We see poverty instead of wealth. We see helplessness instead of power. We see humility in lowliness instead of honor. We see someone who has separated Himself from all that this world holds so dear. We see someone who has done something that no one in the world has ever done; He overcame death. And He invites us all to do the same.

By not separating ourselves from those potentially enslaving misused things that would be our gods and which bind us to this world, we will experience not one but two deaths; one of body and one of soul. When we control that which would control us we die but once. And for one whose soul is unbounded by worldly restraints we then free ourselves to truly live the life that Christ has promised through the event of His resurrection. We will do what He has done.

When we stand before Christ’s judgment we will hear one of three things from Him; “I know you, I know you somewhat, or I know you not.” The category in which each of us falls will depend upon our likeness to Christ determined by our disposition toward this life. That likeness which is revealed on the cross. How much of Himself that He sees in us will determine the response that we will receive. We will be overjoyed to be among those in first two categories. For those known in complete likeness will enter God’s house immediately and those known somewhat, through God’s mercy, will enter the city of God after a period of purification. And to be among those in the third group will be the saddest of moments. For when we are in His incomprehensible glorious presence for but that instant of determined recognition, we will then know why faith and hope in His will were so instrumental in bringing to reality the promise of eternal life in the loving embrace of God.

So now is the time to succeed in the effort of attaining and maintaining the lessons of the cross. The purpose of which is to avoid the tragic regret of being found among the unknown.



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“For in my inner being I delight in God’s law; but I see another law at work in me, waging war against the law of my mind and making me a prisoner of the law of sin at work in me. What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body that is subject to death? Thanks be to God, who delivers me through Jesus Christ our Lord!

So then, I myself in my mind am a slave to God’s law, but in my sinful nature a slave to the law of sin.” – Romans 7: 22-25

A dog and his master are enjoying a warm summer day outdoors. The dog’s master is reclining in a hammock tethered between two trees, while the dog lies near his master beneath a shade tree upon the cool grass. Suddenly, out on the road that abuts the property a car roars by. The dog quickly rises out of instinct and races toward the speeding car. The master shouts his dog’s name and immediately the dog stops in his tracks and looks to his master. In a softer voice the master beckons him to return. The dog again looks toward the road wishing to answer the call of instinct but reluctantly returns to his master’s side after a sterner third call to return is delivered. As he again lies down in the cool grass, his master, knowing the potential danger to his pet that awaited in the road, with love and relief pats him on the head with the consoling words one would extend to another person with understanding: “It wasn’t worth the risk.”

In another town another dog is free to roam his yard not tethered by leash nor bound by a fence.  There too a car roars down the road that runs by his master’s home. So unconfined and uncoupled by the absence of his master’s staying and saving command, the dog rushes out in pursuit of the speeding car as is his nature as well. There he meets his fate as he is caught up under the wheels of the car. He heard no master’s call that would have compelled him to obey, and also lacked disciplined training that could have avoided the tragedy that forever would deprive him of any further joyful summer days.

We too can relate to a loving master in God. We are drawn to the call of things that excite our desires and often find ourselves attached to them. We have the gift of prudence from God as a call and command to protect us from the things of this world that seem harmless at first, but as we foolishly return to them so often we seem incapable of doing without them. There in lies the danger of habits that enslave. They are as dangerous to our health in all ways, especially to our souls, as is chasing cars to our canine friends.

When a thing takes hold it will not release us no matter how hard is our effort. It is like a person who awakens to finds himself at the bottom of a well. He knows not how he got there, yet he can’t get out. His only hope of being freed is if someone comes along and helps him out. That someone is Christ Jesus; who provides the needed grace to separate us from the habits that stifle healthy growth in body, mind and soul. The power of grace, that strengthens us toward complete healing, is released when we make a continued effort to turn away from that which binds us and turn instead toward Christ who frees. The more that effort becomes habit, the stronger the grace. With time, patience and persistence the former undesirable beckoning is reduced to but a whisper.

Christ provides this grace through his unconditional love for us. An unconditional love that paradoxically requires a condition of obedience. Christ confirms this in saying: “If you love me you will do what I say;” and; “Many say to me, ‘lord, lord,’ yet don’t do what I say.”

No better example is there that shows that obedience pays off than the miracle at the wedding at Cana. Mary, the mother of Jesus, is told that the wine for the wedding guests is running out. Mary goes to her son Jesus and asks Him to help. He tells her, “What is this to me? My hour has not yet come.” She then tells the servants: “Do whatever he tells you.” They do and the water requested by Jesus is changed into wine. The guests all comment to the host that most would serve the choicest wine at the beginning of the wedding banquet, yet he has served it at the end when most would expect to be served the cheapest. The obedience given by the servants to Jesus has resulted in the best outcome.

We are all reluctant to obey. We believe we know what is best. Often we are not prudent in our thinking, but rather we are prideful. As with the unrestrained pooch in the second story, all does not end well. However, in the first story, the reluctant pet in his eventual obedience to his master’s call avoids disaster and remains in the comfort and security of his master’s loving embrace.

When God calls us from those pleasures that we find so difficult to resist, He is calling us to immeasurable joys of which we are yet unable to conceive. 


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Turning The Other Cheek

“But I say to you, Do not resist the one who is evil. But if anyone slaps you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also.” – Matthew 5:3

Archbishop Desmond Tutu, of South Africa, once was confronted by a man while walking in town. The passer-by and the archbishop were on the same sidewalk heading toward one another with only room for one to pass at a time. They stood face to face with the man not willing to allow the archbishop to pass. The man’s comment was, “I don’t move for gorillas.” With that, Archbishop Tutu, stepped aside and replied, “I do;” as he made way for the man to pass.

Saint Mother Teresa of Calcutta, India entered a local bakery with one of her starving children in her care. She approached the counter, tended by the owner, and asked if he could spare bread for the child. The owner, not enamored with Mother, promptly spit in her face. Mother Teresa’s responded with, “Thank you for your gift to me. Now, perhaps, some bread for the child.”

There was a man who was very good at his trade. That trade was training men to hate. At the end of the training program he felt he had accomplished his goal with ten recruits. For the final test he lined up the ten men shoulder to shoulder. He then viciously struck the first man in line across his face. Then commanded him to do the same to the man next to him. One after the other, with the same force received, each delivered an equal blow to the man next to him. When it was the sixth man’s turn he refused to carry out the command. That is when hate stops. (Archbishop Fulton K. Sheen)

“Love is rock; hatred is sand. Love is strong; hatred is weak. You can never build a relationship on hatred. Nothing is everlasting unless it is built on love.” – Fr. Leo Clifford

Did we witness here a strong response or a weak response? The answer is in what may have been gained. What appears as acquiescing is instead a courageous act. Each suffered a degrading attack, yet, by their response, opened themselves to possibly further abuse. But for what purpose? To make a point.

Anyone near enough to each event was witness to a moment of truth. All eyes turn from the attacker to the target to see how each would respond. If an argument ensued or a knock down drag out fight, all would have walked away with nothing but a bit of – par for the course – entertainment as they continued about their daily business. Yet in each case they would have witnessed the unusual, the unexpected. And that is cause for pause and pondering.

In the non-aggressive responses the eyes of those watching were opened. Opened to another means of handling hatred beyond an eye for an eye mentality. Giving the racist, the bakery owner and the trainer food for thought. For in attacking someone a second time when they did nothing to earn the first cannot be justified. With a firmness in their conviction to not inflict the abuse that they had received shows a strength that is all too often neglected. It is the strength that impels aggressors to look into their souls. And with what little remnant of conscience which is still possessed, that the world has not yet destroyed, one can then take an account of oneself with hope of seeing the truth. And having done so realizes that in every heart no matter how dark or hard there is always room enough for God’s grace to enter. Through that grace a heart can be healed and a soul saved by nurturing each through good thoughts, words and deeds.

Not all will see value in the turn the other cheek response. Nor will all who witness take with them a changed heart. But some will. And for that some, which may include the antagonist, an opportunity to change their attitudes for the better and renew their lives will not be if those who like Archbishop Tutu, Saint Mother Teresa and the trainee have not the courage and faith to stand their ground on a sound foundation of love against the evils of hatred.

Each case cited is an example of pride verses humility; vice verses virtue. Whenever selfishness and humility are found in the same company confrontation is inevitable. They are the incompatible oil and water of conflict.

“Do not think that I came to bring peace on the earth; I did not come to bring peace, but a sword.” – Matthew 10:34

 The only justifiable hatred is that which God has for evil.


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The Master’s Hand

“and he that shall humble himself

shall be exalted.” – Matthew 23:12

The Old Violin

by, Myra Brooks Welch

 ‘Twas battered and scarred,
And the auctioneer thought it
hardly worth his while
To waste his time on the old violin,
but he held it up with a smile.


“What am I bid, good people”, he cried,
“Who starts the bidding for me?”
“One dollar, one dollar, Do I hear two?”
“Two dollars, who makes it three?”
“Three dollars once, three dollars twice, going for three,

“But, No
From the room far back a gray-bearded man
Came forward and picked up the bow,
Then wiping the dust from the old violin
And tightening up the strings,
He played a melody, pure and sweet
As sweet as the angel sings.

The music ceased and the auctioneer
With a voice that was quiet and low,
Said “What now am I bid for this old violin?”
As he held it aloft with its’ bow.

“One thousand, one thousand, Do I hear two?”
“Two thousand, Who makes it three?”
“Three thousand once, three thousand twice,
Going and gone”, said he.

The audience cheered,
But some of them cried,
“We just don’t understand.”
“What changed its’ worth?”
Swift came the reply.
“The Touch of the Masters Hand.”

“And many a man with life out of tune
All battered and bruised with hardship
Is auctioned cheap to a thoughtless crowd
Much like that old violin.

A mess of pottage, a glass of wine,
A game and he travels on.
He is going once, he is going twice,
He is going and almost gone.

But the Master comes,
And the foolish crowd never can quite understand,
The worth of a soul and the change that is wrought
By the Touch of the Masters’ Hand.

As the old violin, many of us see ourselves with neither an appearance that would attract the attention and interest of others nor be held in any esteem. In humility all are clay awaiting the master potter’s hand to           turn the ordinary into the extraordinary. For the master potter knows the true value, purpose and beauty in clay and how to bring it forth. Through molding shapeless clay he gives it its form, that he has in mind, and then  forges permanently its being.     



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Why Life Is Precious

In light of the recent video evidence revealing the harvesting and sale of aborted baby organs by Planned Parenthood, I find it puzzling; not that so many find the practice abhorrent, but that it is found surprising. Planned Parenthood was founded by Margaret Sanger, an American birth control advocate and is regarded as the patron saint of abortionists. Ms. Sanger had found common cause with proponents of eugenics, believing that they both sought to “assist the race toward the elimination of the unfit.” Would any who have witnessed the earlier fervor over the use of stem cells taken from aborted babies for scientific research then not expect an even further reach by abortionists when the heat over that issue had subsided?

What have we come to in western civilization? Modernism has done all in its power to undermine, if not seek to, eliminate tradition, family and the supernatural; and has convinced many, by appealing to the weakest parts of human nature, that the disorderly environment in which they live is orderly. Proof of this is witnessed by the callous and cavalier manner in which two high level officials of Planned Parenthood, over lunch, discussed the disturbing abortion procedures performed on unborn babies, so as not to damage particular organs which were to be harvested for research. Then these same doctors of medicine, who have taken an oath to “do no harm,” casually sip wine and order entrees as they negotiate the sale price of those organs; thereby reducing the perception of the unborn to nothing more than lab rats. It is obvious that they have a selective view of life’s value. This same indifferent mentality, that can unceremoniously toss into a garbage bin the remnants of an organism that once possessed the potential to develop into a mature living human being with hopes and dreams, now snuffed out, will enthusiastically applaud a discovered possibility that a microbe may exist on some far away extra-terrestrial world.

The point is, that without life there is no occasion for the things that affect us most. Sorrow, regret, defeat, doubt, hate, joy, happiness, victory, hope and love would not be if not for the life in men and women. How can we employ the best of who we are when we put into practice the worst. This is not a matter of making progress toward some theorized good through trial and error, but rather making trials and errors unnecessary by immediate good acts of the will; simply because we can.

Can public opinion change? If one can change one’s view then all are capable of the same. But the change must be formed first in the heart. Abby Johnson, the former Planned Parenthood administrator became pro-life after watching a 13-week-old baby fight for its life during an abortion. She watched the sonogram screen as the little boy pulled away from the instruments and pressed against the wall of his mother’s womb to escape harm. That experience permanently changed her, and led her to oppose abortion. Norma McCorvey was pro-choice on abortion, but is now a pro-life advocate. She says: “Back in 1973, I was a very confused twenty-one year old with one child and facing an unplanned pregnancy. At the time I fought to obtain a legal abortion.” This testimony is significant because Norma was the real woman behind “Roe” of the “Roe vs Wade” Supreme Court Decision to legalize abortion. She continues: “I think it’s safe to say that the entire abortion industry is based on a lie…I am dedicated to spending the rest of my life undoing the law that bears my name.” In considering these two noteworthy conversions it is not impossible for one to believe that many others of right reason and good conscience can do the same. These two women came to see life not as selective but all-inclusive.

God willed all things into being. God is love and that love is inherent, in some manner, in all that He has made. Love is a thing that cannot be hoarded, but must be given away. As the lyrics of a song so ably states: “A bell is not a bell until its rung, a song is not a song until its sung. And love is not love until its given away.” All things in God’s creation have purpose. And only human life has the capacity to fulfill its primary purpose in returning that love to God and sharing it with others. That is why life is so precious. And as such should not be so flippantly debased.

For in Him we live and move and have our being.” – Acts 17:28

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We Are Not Alone

footprints“And lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world.” – Mark 16:20

We all, I believe, will admit that at one time or other have felt that we were alone. Not by our own choosing, but rather put upon us by circumstances from without or within.

Many years ago while lying in bed before what I hoped would be a good night’s sleep, I experienced a muscle tightening in my lower back. It stemmed from a chronic condition as a result of a spinal fusion to correct a curvature of the spine. The tightening quickly progressed to a full-blown spasm. So great was the pain that it felt as though an iron fist had me in its grip. I thought my lower ribs were about to fracture. There was nothing I myself could do to relieve it. I called to my mother, who immediately began to message the area. I had placed myself in a fetal position in an attempt to reduce the discomfort. I wished I could have left my body which had me in such agony. The very fact that I could conjure up the idea of leaving this painful body behind, to me, meant that one day I would when God so chose. Only to again, one day, be reunited with it in a most perfect state by His good grace. As I lay there resigned to let come what may, suddenly, the spasm  lessened and I was released from the most painful grasp that I would have thought that only death would have relieved. What I could not do for myself was accomplished with the help of another; that of my mother.

I once received a thank you card from a loved one who had been struggling through a challenging trial that I, also, had in a similar way experienced. He occasionally came to me – as one who had walked a near identical path – for advice, direction, support or simply an understanding ear. Contained in his message was the following: “I was hanging from the edge of a precipice, which extended over the bowels of hell. And you reached in and pulled me out.” He, too, could not free himself. He needed help from without.

There will come a moment when the struggles and sufferings of life’s most difficult circumstances will bring us to the apex of our stamina. Whether it is our own pain and suffering that presses in on us or that of a loved one. We will find ourselves like the man who paints himself into a corner with no way out. We look to our left and right and find a wall blocking our way. It is folly to look forward into a future. For at that extreme trying instant none exists. We can only give attention to surviving the moment. We look down for some solace, only to find our feet firmly planted in a mortal world whose meager offer of support is that it sadly cannot yield to our pleas. We now know there is but one option left. So we look up for our last means of escape. When all hope seems gone, we find faith at the end of our rope. It is then that we are comfortably enfolded in a powerful yet gentle breeze. Not as one that cools the perspiring brow of a farmer who labors in the field under a blazing sun, but rather that which quenches the soul of one who has been thirsting for the assurance of absolute truth, perfect love and everlasting life.

All that is in this world is restricted to a certain hierarchy of life. Although each has the innate potential to advance in some way to the next level, it cannot do so in and of itself. Each needs a higher level of life above it to reach down and lift it up. Nutrients in soil have a purpose. That is to provide sustenance for plant life. Yet it is fixed at its level of existence. But if a seed is planted in soil it draws the nutrients up from its world into itself and becomes a flower. And in so doing has made the nutrients a part of itself. By lifting the nutrients to this greater good and allowing them to fulfill their purpose, they now have a share in a new and higher life.

We humans, too, have within us the ability and urge to move to a higher level. The proof is in our unquenchable thirst for that which the things of this world seemingly cannot satisfy. When trapped in that inescapable corner, as discussed above, we have but one alternative; to look up. Up to that higher level. That upper level of life that, like the nutrients, we cannot ascend to on our own. A child will find that adult conversation goes right over his head, until an adult descends to the child’s language level to bring understanding. We, also, need One from above who will come down to us to show us the way. And in His willingness to be lifted up on a cross, Christ has revealed the way by which we, too, are lifted to the ultimate hierarchy of life.

“He bowed the heavens, and came down.” – Psalm 27:9 

We rise to a higher life when we are born into this world. The human fetus matures into a human baby. Through that maturation we achieve the potential that we possessed at inception. But it is necessary that we be called forth from the womb to reach fulfillment in a new life. The new-born cries because he regrets leaving behind what we knew so well. But, the fear of an uncertain new environment soon leaves him as he gazes into the loving eyes of his mother. So it is as we enter the tomb, that rightly rhymes with womb. For the tomb, like the womb, is but a stopover in life’s journey. Likewise the tomb is meant to be left behind as is the womb. And the fear of losing a world that we once knew so well will, too, quickly fade as we gaze upon the beautiful loving face of our savior and creator.

“I will not fear, for you are ever with me, and you will not leave me to face my perils alone.”  – Thomas Merton


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