Thoughts To Live By…

Archive for the ‘Gospel of John’ Category

A wealthy man and his son loved to collect rare works of art. They had everything in their collection, from Picasso to Raphael. They would often sit together and admire the great works of art.

When the Vietnam conflict broke out, the son went to war. He was very courageous and died in battle, while rescuing another soldier. The father was notified and grieved deeply for his only son.

About a month later, just before Christmas, there was a knock at the door  A young man stood at the door with a large package in his hands.

He said, “Sir, you don’t know me, but I am the soldier for whom your son gave his life. He saved many lives that day, and he was carrying me to safety, when a bullet struck him in the heart and he died instantly.  He often talked about you, and your love for art.” The young man held out this package. “I know this isn’t much. I’m not really a great artist, but I think your son would have wanted you to have this.”

The father opened the package. It was a portrait of his son, painted by the young man. He stared in awe at the way the soldier had captured the personality of his son in the painting. The father was so drawn to the eyes that his own eyes welled up with tears. He thanked the young man and offered to pay him for the picture. “Oh, no sir, I could never repay what your son did for me. It’s a gift.”

The father hung the portrait over his mantle. Every time visitors came to his home, he took them to see the portrait of his son before he showed them any of the other great works he had collected.

The man died a few months later. There was to be a great auction of his paintings. Many influential people gathered, excited over seeing the great paintings and having an opportunity to purchase one for their collection.

On the platform sat the painting of the son. The auctioneer pounded his gavel… “We will start the bidding with this picture of the son…who will bid for this picture?”

There was silence.

Then, a voice in the back of the room shouted, “We want to see the famous paintings…skip this one.”

But the auctioneer persisted,”Will somebody bid for this painting? Who will start the bidding..$100, $200?”

Another voice angrily shouted, “We didn’t come to see this painting. We came to see the Van Goghs, the Rembrandts…get on with the real bids!”

But still the auctioneer continued: “The son! The son…who’ll bid on  the son?”

Finally, a voice came from the very back of the room. It was the longtime gardener of the man and his son. “I’ll give $10 for the painting.”  Being a poor man, it was all he could afford.

“We have $10, who will bid $20?”

“Give it to him for $10. Let’s see the masters.”

“$10 is the bid, won’t someone bid $20?”

The crowd was becoming angry and  did not want the picture of the son.

They wanted the more worthy investments for their collections.

The auctioneer pounded the gavel. “Going once, twice… SOLD for $10!”

A man sitting on the second row shouted, “Now let’s get on with the  auction and the other art in the collection!”

The auctioneer laid down his gavel and stated, “I’m sorry, but the auction is over.”

“What about the paintings?”

“When I was called to conduct this auction, I was told of a secret stipulation in the will. I was not allowed to reveal that stipulation until this time and the son was sold.  Only the painting of the son would be auctioned and whoever bought that painting would inherit the man’s entire estate, including the paintings!

The man who bought the son gets everything!”

God gave His son 2,000 years ago to die on the cross. Much like the auctioneer, His message today is: “The son, the son, who’ll take the son?”

Because, you see, whoever takes the Son gets everything.


Source: Irza Puncia

‘Peace’ is my farewell to you, my peace is my gift to you.” – John 14:27

What we receive from someone’s last will and testament can be a very personal and special expression of his or her love and concern for us. In His will, the Lord left His disciples peace. The traditional Hebrew shalom has a wide range of meaning. It is used as an ordinary salutation. In Scriptures however, it often indicates the well-being of men and women who live in harmony with nature, with themselves, with each other, and with God. It means not only blessing but also rest, glory, riches, salvation, and life. Simply stated, peace, is the fullness of happiness (Lv. 26:6).

By “peace,” Jesus means “shalom,” harmony, a taste of paradise, a foretaste of heaven. This is obviously not the peace that the world gives (Jn 14:27). It is a peace beyond human understanding (Phil 4:7). This shalom-peace is stronger than death and will last forever. It can be produced only by the Holy Spirit (see Gal 5:22). ).  As the gift of Jesus shalom (Greek eirene) stands for salvation which brings the bounty of messianic blessings.

God loves all men and women on earth and gives them the hope of a new era, an era of peace. His love, fully revealed in the Incarnate Son, is the foundation of universal peace. Peace is possible. It only needs to be implored from God as His gift, but it also needs to be built day by day with His help, through works of justice and love.

“All things desire for peace,” St. Augustine tells us. John XXIII expresses a similar universal desire in the first paragraph of his encyclical Pacem in Terris (1963): “All men of every age have most eagerly yearned for peace on earth.” And yet, as look at our world and see situations of un-peace: wars, violence, division, injustice, oppression and exploitation, deteriorating poverty and un-love. “We desire peace and therefore St. Thomas adds, “we desire to obtain what we desire” (Summa Theologiae, II-II, 29, 2). Hence, all men and women of good will have to pursue and work for peace of all. For “peace is either for all or for none” (SRS 26).

As a community of disciples of Jesus Christ, we have the vocation and mission to be sign and instrument of peace in the world and for the world. For the Church, to carry out her evangelizing mission means to work for peace. “For the Catholic faithful, the commitment to build peace and justice is not secondary but essential. It is to be undertaken in openness towards their brothers and sisters of other Churches and Ecclesial Communities, towards the followers of other religions, and towards all men of good will” (Pope John Paul II, Message for World Day of Peace, issued December 8, 1999).

How can we become peacemaker or builder or bridges of peace?

  • Be at peace with oneself and with God. The heart of peace is the peace of the heart (Pope John Paul II). The words of St. Seraphim is worth recalling to explain this truth: “Acquire inner peace and thousands around you will find liberation.”
  • Be at peace with individuals and groups near or close to you both in hearts, space, and time. Like charity, peace begins at home. It begins with our loved ones, relatives, friends and neighbors. Neighborliness leads to peace. Hence, we are challenged by the Church: “Today there is an inescapable duty to make ourselves the neighbor of  every man, no matter who he is, and if we meet him, to come to his aid  in a positive way, whether he is an aged person abandoned by all, a  foreign worker despised without reason, a refugee, an illegitimate  child wrongly suffering for a sin he did not commit, or a starving human being who awakens our conscience by calling to mind the words of  Christ: ‘As you did it to one of the least of these My brethren, you  did it to Me.'” (“Gaudium Et Spes,” 27).
  • Be at peace to everyone even to individuals and groups who do evil against you and differ from you in many ways. As St. Paul advises: “Do all you can to live at peace with everyone” (Rom 12:18).  “Love your enemies and pray for your persecutors. This will prove that we are sons and daughters of our heavenly Father” (Mt 5:44-45), do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who persecute you, love your enemies, rejoice with those who are joyful, weep with those who weep, live in peace with one another and conquer evil with good (see Rm 12:14-16, 21). Gandhi’s reminder is still relevant and urgent today: “A tooth for a tooth, an eye for an eye makes the world toothless and blind.” Hence, let us promote peace for all nonviolently and peacefully.
  • Be at peace with the whole creation. Remember ultimate peace is either for the whole creation or none at all.  If we are truly at peace with ourselves, with God, with our neighbor then we should be at peace also with the created world and everything that lives in it. The whole creation will only enjoy ultimate peace when we are at peace with God, the Father and Creator of all. “If man is not at peace with God, neither the earth is at peace” (Pope John Paul II, Message, World Youth Day of Peace 1990).
  • Share to the poor, the needy and the suffering. Poverty and misery breed divisive conflicts. In fact, it is foolish to preach peace to an empty stomach. President Woodrow Wilson once said,”No one can love his neighbor on an empty stomach.” His point is an important one: We are made up soul and body.To address the soul without addressing the body is to ignore  the reality of our human makeup.  The insight of John Locke on this matter is of great importance: “A sound mind in a sound body, is a short, but full description of a happy [peaceful] state in this World . . .”
  • Pray for peace. Peace is a gift of God, hence, Christians in particular should pray for peace and for the attainment of the essential elements of peace – justice, love, freedom and truth. As Pope John Paul II writes:

To pray for peace is to pray for justice, for a right ordering of relations within and among nations and peoples. It is to pray for freedom, especially for the religious freedom that is basic human and civil right of every individual. To pray for peace is to seek God’s forgiveness, and to implore the courage to forgive those who trespassed against us (Message, World Day of Peace 2002, no. 14).

The Lord died to give us peace. Receive this gift of peace, pray and pursue it . Help build, bridge and spread peace everywhere. “Blessed are the peacemakers for they shall see God” (Mt 5:9).

December 2019
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