Your Annoying Little Brother

07/09/2015

“Dad! They’re mocking you behind your back.”

“I’m Dad’s favorite.”

Wouldn’t you like to slug him?

Maybe you didn’t have a little brother. Maybe you had a little sister like this. Or maybe it wasn’t a sibling, but a friend. Or an acquaintance.  Maybe it was a co-worker who was this annoying.

Whoever, I’ll bet you’ve had personal experience with somebody in your life who annoyed you to the point of… oh, maybe wanting to strangle them.

Or just… witness some minor mishap befall them. Just to see them squirm a little.

That’s okay. That’s human nature.

It’s not right. It’s a fault. It’s a sin we need to confess.

But we’re human. We have thoughts like these.

Have you ever read or listened to the Genesis account of Joseph — yeah, the Technicolor Dreamcoat guy; that Joseph — and thought of him like that?

We’re reading the Genesis account of Joseph and his brothers this week at Daily Mass. Father Mitch Pacwa described Joseph like this yesterday during his homily on EWTN.

I had never heard that description before.

So what do we do with a person like Joseph? That annoying person in your life?

It’s really simple.

Jesus spells it out for us in the Gospels. But there’s a more recent admonition from him.

When He appeared to Sister Maria Faustina, Jesus told her — told us — that He demands from us deeds of mercy toward our neighbors.

That’s it. That simple.

He said:

“I demand from you deeds of mercy, which are to arise out of love for Me. You are to show mercy to your neighbors always and everywhere. You must not shrink from this or try to excuse or absolve yourself from it.

“I am giving you three ways of exercising mercy toward your neighbor: the first — by deed, the second — by word, the third — by prayer. In these three degrees is contained the fullness of mercy, and it is an unquestionable proof of love for Me. By this means a soul glorifies and pays reverence to My mercy.”

   –   Diary of Saint Maria Faustina Kowalska (paragraph 742), Marian Press, 2009

So what do we do with all of this?

Next time we have these very human thoughts, maybe we think twice.

Make no mistake. We will have those thoughts. We are human. What matters is what we do with them.

That’s it.

It’s that simple.

And that challenging.

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Thanks for taking some of your precious time today to read my thoughts. My intention, beginning Friday, April 17, 2015, is to post a brief, daily meditation based on the readings from the day’s Catholic liturgy. I would appreciate your help and encouragement. This is something I’ve been called to do for some time. I’m finally embracing it. Father, forgive me for procrastinating. And for not posting a meditation daily.

 

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Who Comforts You?

04/26/2015

Father Fred’s dog died.

Father told us what happened this week to his dog, Annie, his constant companion of twelve and a half years.

She had not been well. He took her to the vet this week and received the awful news that she was not going to get better and it was best that she be euthanized.

It’s okay to do that to dogs. Not humans.

He confessed to the veterinarian, whom he had never met, that Annie’s illness was difficult for him to handle. While they talked, he told her that he was a priest. She told him that she, too, was Catholic.

The vet asked Father Fred if he wanted to pray.

She sought to comfort him. A total role reversal for him.

Today’s Gospel was John 10:11-18.

“I am the good shepherd. A good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep.” – John 10:11

Father Fred’s homily reminded me of the day Kit Kat died.

Kit Kat  was, as my daughter Martha called him, my first baby. He was the first cat that I ever had. He was a stray — a feral cat — who sort of adopted us when we lived in The Blue House (our kids identified our homes by the color of the house).

He was getting older and we knew he was frail. One weekend, I think it was October of 2010, we spent the night in Madison because Martha was competing in the collegiate tennis conference tournament up there during her senior year.

When we came home from Madison, we found Kit Kat dead. He apparently was walking from our bedroom into the hallway when he drew his final breath.

The anguish was overwhelming. My sorrow lasted for months. I don’t deal well with pet deaths.

That’s a story for another day.

Those memories came flooding back as Father Fred told his story about being shepherded by the vet, one of our deacons, Joe Casey, Joe’s wife, Mary, and our youth minister, Tracy Rapp.

I thought about how Jesus, the Good Shepherd, comforted and shepherded me.

I thought about the powerful image I had of Jesus, walking along a lush, green riverbank, with my little buddy Kit Kat. I saw a healthy, vibrant little calico cat, walking calmly and peacefully alongside our Good Shepherd.

And that comforted me.

We all have moments when we need comfort, when we need a guiding hand, a warm embrace, just some understanding.

Who do you turn to for comfort?

Is it Jesus?

Can you recall times in your life when Jesus has appeared at your side, perhaps in your thoughts or during prayer time, perhaps in the form of a fellow, caring human being?

Can you recall times when someone else has needed you to reach out to them for comfort. With a good word, maybe just a smile? Or a well-timed hug?

I think of Dad’s illness and the times when I knew Jesus was at my side… was at Dad’s side. The anguish that Mom felt, my sisters, Uncle Stan…

… the comfort I received — that we all received —  from so many people as we walked that journey.

And how we shepherded one another, too.

Father Fred told us today how easy it was to be the good shepherd to a fellow human.

All it takes sometimes is just a nice word. Or a nice smile.

Jesus told St. Faustina that he demands from all of us deeds of mercy, that we are not to shrink or absolve ourselves from it. That we can show mercy to others by deed, word, or prayer.

Do we?

Always?

It’s actually not difficult.

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Thanks for taking some of your precious time today to read my thoughts. My intention, beginning Friday, April 17, 2015, is to post a brief, daily meditation based on the readings from the day’s Catholic liturgy. I would appreciate your help and encouragement. This is something I’ve been called to do for some time. I’m finally embracing it. Father, forgive me for procrastinating.


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