Aloha Friday Message – July 12, 2019 – There you are.

1928AFC071219 – There you are.

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Psalm 19:14 14 Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable to you, O Lord, my rock and my redeemer.

May Peace always be with you and may God bless you, Belovéd!

Philippians 4:5-7 Let your gentleness be known to everyone. The Lord is near. Do not worry about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

Sunday’s Gospel is the familiar story of The Good Samaritan. Jesus’ parables help us understand what God intends for us to be, for us to do, and for us to share. At the end of this story, Jesus asks, “Which of these three, in your opinion, was neighbor to the robbers’ victim?” He [scholar of the law] answered, The one who treated him with mercy.’ Jesus said to him, “Go and do likewise.”

We do not know any more about this Samaritan other than his nationality, and we can assume he was wealthy because of the extent of his generosity. He was “taking care of business,” and stopped to help a stranger; then he continued with his work and promised to follow up on his act of charity. Jesus’ point is straightforward: Do that. Recall that Jesus told this story because the lawyer tried to justify himself by asking, “And who is my neighbor?” In my heart and mind, I hope that lawyer blushed a little when he heard Jesus’ answer. It makes me blush, because I know that I, too, try to limit my charity and justify my lack thereof. “He’s just going to use that money to get wine / drugs / gambling / whatever.” “If I send them some money, they’ll keep sending me more and more appeals, and it gets to be nothing more than junk mail.” That’s not what’s supposed to happen. Jesus commands us: Overcome prejudice, overcome fear, overcome violence – and keep working at the tasks God has given you. Everywhere you go, go with God, and God will always be near. How easily we forget that sage advice and stubbornly walk away from God! We cannot expect to be filled with the Spirit if we say, “Not now. I’m busy. I can’t afford to get involved. Maybe some other time.” Not exactly what the Apostle Paul taught: Let your gentleness be known to everyone. The Lord is near. Seek him while – and where – he can be found. This is why it is so important to remember that in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. The result – both immediate and long-term – is the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. “Guard our hearts and minds in Christ Jesus?” Why are we afraid to help? Is it really because once we “start helping,” others will expect us to continue and even to help them? Is it true that “no good deed goes unpunished?” Even the simplest of things can be good deeds; we don’t have to wait for a “Good Samaritan Opportunity” to be generous, to be faithful, or to be respectful. Let me give you a “good ol’ Catholic” example.

When the Gospel is read during the Liturgy of the Word, there are some common gestures that have come into practice over the centuries. It may surprise some of us to learn that today’s Key Verse – Psalm 19:14 – has something to do with that. When the Priest or Deacon announces the Gospel, he says, “A reading from the Gospel according to St. _________.” Then he traces the sign of the cross over the page. Members of the assembly respond by saying, “Glory to You Oh Lord” and make a small sign of the cross with their thumb over their forehead, lips, and chest. Why? With this silent gesture, we are acknowledging that the Gospel is the Living Word of God so we consciously remember to listen so that the Gospel will make a way into our minds, our speech, and our hearts – that is, if we remember to do that and if we remember WHY we do that.

We trace a cross on our forehead to remind us that the Gospel can illuminate our thoughts and purify our minds. We trace a cross on our lips to remind us our speech should be holy and influence our willingness to share the Gospel with others. Lastly, we cross our hearts as we invite God to increase our love for Him and for others. This short, silent prayer with the accompanying gestures is to remind us that being open to the Gospel will help us to know, to publicly acknowledge, and love Jesus even more. Thus we take steps to fulfill this passage’s meaning: Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable to you, O Lord, my rock and my redeemer.

It is such a little thing, but it can make a huge difference if we are not afraid to try it. Fear is such a foolish thing. You may recall we’ve often quoted Brendan Case here who said FEAR is an acronym for False Evidence Appearing Real. There’s an excellent example of this in the book of Wisdom, Chapter 17. The writer is recounting the mind-numbing, heart-wrenching fear that incapacitated the Egyptians as they felt the weight of God’s judgment on them for the wickedness they had committed: Wisdom 17:11-15 11 For wickedness is a cowardly thing, condemned by its own testimony* distressed by conscience, it has always exaggerated the difficulties. 12 For fear is nothing but a giving up of the helps that come from reason; 13 and hope, defeated by this inward weakness, prefers ignorance of what causes the torment. 14 But throughout the night, which was really powerless and which came upon them from the recesses of powerless Hades, they all slept the same sleep, 15 and now were driven by monstrous specters, and now were paralyzed by their souls’ surrender; for sudden and unexpected fear overwhelmed them.          * The word used here for “testimony” is λογισμός (logismos) {log-is-mos’} thought, reasoning; false argument or reasoning, properly, “bottom-line” reasoning that reflects someone’s values, i.e. how they personally assign weight in determining what they find reasonable. (“calculated arguments, thoughts”) emphasizes reaching a personal opinion, i.e. what comes out of a personal reckoning. This is the same fallacious reasoning behind relativism (← Check it out!). “What’s true for you may not be true for me ….” It’s also part of the practice of Satisficing which is a decision-making strategy that aims for an agreeable or tolerable result, rather than the best-possible solution. “Ehh, that’s good enough.” No, it’s not. Let me show you something to think about: A Cross:

What is the first thing that comes to mind? Is it Jesus? With or without the corpus (the crucified body of Christ), does the Cross remind you of anything when you consider The Wondrous Cross (↔ Music Link)? What if that was in your mind as you prepare to listen to the Gospel – even in a non-Catholic setting? Would we remember that Jesus came to die for us every time we see a Cross – even if it’s really just a telephone pole? Do we ever take “half-a-mo'” to remember that the Fullness of God was/is/will be Jesus? Colossians 1:19 19 For in him all the fullness** of God was pleased to dwell …  ** πλήρωμα (plērōma) {play’-ro-mah} sum total, fullness, even (super) abundance; the body of believers, as that which is filled with the presence, power, agency, riches of God and of Christ. And what of us; what will it take to fill even us? Here is what the Apostle Paul said to the Church in Ephesus:

Ephesians 3:16-19 16 I pray that, according to the riches of his glory, he may grant that you may be strengthened in your inner being with power through his Spirit, 17 and that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith, as you are being rooted and grounded in love. 18 I pray that you may have the power to comprehend, with all the saints, what is the breadth and length and height and depth, 19 and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, so that you may be filled with all the fullness of God. How does any of this relate to The Good Samaritan and the meditations of our hearts? Simply this:

We can choose to be mindful of the Cross, the Christ, and the crisis of indifference, or we can be like the Priest and the Levite and refuse to make a difference. Too often what we fail to realize is that the choice to ignore the problem is just another way to make a difference – only a negative difference. We can live with and in The Word, or just walk on by as if it doesn’t really matter because we won’t really change anything by acting on our impulse for charity. If instead our minds, our lips, and are hearts are open to the flow of The Word, then we have Spirit and Life because “Your words, Lord, are Spirit and Life” (↔ Music Link). There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called to the one hope of your calling, one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all, who is above all and through all and in all. Ephesians 4:4-6 – all who know the name of God for His name is HOLY. (↔ Music Link), And whenever we are with him, then he is with us, and together we and he testify to the Truth of Charity, which is Love, empowered by FAITH – being Fully Aware I Trust Him who is my rock and my redeemer. When we are in The Word, we are where Love is, so that with HIM wherever you go There you are. That is certainly nothing to be afraid of. Amen.

Unless otherwise indicated, all scripture passages are from the New Revised Standard Version Catholic Edition (NRSVCE) New Revised Standard Version Bible: Catholic Edition, copyright © 1989, 1993 the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

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Aloha Friday Messages by Charles O. Todd, III is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License

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About Chick Todd

American Roman Catholic reared as a "Baptiterian" in Denver Colorado.

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