Tuesday, 26 May 2015

Gadgets Gadgets Gadgets

It's amazing how many electronic gadgets we have around us these days which didn't exist only a few years ago. Like cellular phones for instance, musical recording devices like MP3 players and similar instruments, tablets, electronic readers instead of books and so on.

I friend of mine is really mad about gadgets. He has a device which opens his garage door just as he approaches his house. Somehow, the garage door detects his car approaching and opens automatically and switches the garage lights on. Very impressive.

When he gets home all he needs to do is tap his hands and the lights come on. One tap lights on. Two taps the curtains are drawn shut. Three taps they are open. Four taps the fire is on in the fire place. It's great fun when there's applause on TV.

He also has a small device always stuck in his ear. I asked him what it was and he said it's his cellular phone. He says "Call Vic" and the device somehow dials my number and he talks to me without using his phone. He is often seen walking in the street talking to himself; or to someone else on the other end of this contraption in his ear.

The other day we went to the zoo as a family. His family and mine. It was a pleasant day throughout until we approached the ostrich enclosure. The ostriches are in an open area with a barrier separating us from them.

I don't know whether it was a floating ostrich feather or high pollen count but suddenly my friend started sneezing violently. He shook his head forward and the device flew out of his ear and into the enclosure.

Immediately ... an ostrich arrived from nowhere and swallowed the device.

There was nothing else to do but go home.

For the next few days, every time someone phoned my friend they heard a loud SQUAK in their ear. They thought his secretary had just sat on a cactus, or had some other misfortune whilst answering the phone.

Monday, 25 May 2015

Money Money Money

The reading in church today was from Mark 10:17-27.

I’m sure you know the story about the rich man who was told by Jesus to sell everything he had, give it to the poor, and follow Jesus.

The man just could not do this, and went away sad.

Jesus also says that famous saying about it being harder for a rich man to enter Heaven than for a camel to go through the eye of a needle.

And people have been debating that hyperbole for years. What did it mean? Did Jesus refer to a gate called Needle, or was it a mountain pass which was so narrow you had to unload your camel of what it was carrying, pass the camel through, and then load it again.

In reality, it doesn’t matter.

What’s important is the message behind the hyperbole and the advice to sell everything and give it to the poor.

Did Jesus mean it?

Here’s my take on it – unorthodox as it may be.

I doubt very much if every rich man on earth sold all their property and gave it to the poor that it would make any difference. It would be like putting a snowflake in a burning furnace.

Anyway, it is not physically possible, since if every rich person sold their property, by implication, they would sell it to someone else who would in turn be rich in order to be able to buy it. I’m sure you follow the tautology.

So what did Jesus mean?

He certainly was not speaking against wealth. Wealth creates wealth. It creates jobs and it creates the wherewithal to help others less fortunate than ourselves.

Christ condones, nay encourages, the creation of wealth in His parable about the servants given a gold coin each by their master. When he returned from his travels the master discovered that two servants managed to make their fortune increase whilst the third just didn’t bother. So he rewards the hard-working servants and punishes the other. Luke 19:11-27.

Jesus was teaching responsible wealth. There’s nothing wrong in working hard and amassing a fortune honestly.

As long as we use it responsibly.

Those who are fortunate to have wealth should remember their responsibility to share it with others, and to help others, as best they can. This doesn’t mean sell everything and give it to the poor. It means be aware of those around you who are less fortunate than yourself; and share your good fortune with them.

If you were to sell everything then once it's gone, it's gone - you can no longer help the poor and you may well become poor yourself. What's so clever about that?

In the parable of the rich man and Lazarus (Luke 16:19-31) Jesus does not condemn the rich man for being rich; but for not even realizing, never mind caring, for a poor man starving at his gate.

So there you have it: work hard, be wealthy, but remember others less well-off than yourself.

And wealth does not necessarily mean riches and money.

Some people are wealthy in different ways: wealthy in wisdom and knowledge, wealthy in health and stamina, wealthy in talents and so on.

Those amongst us who are well educated and knowledgeable should not look down on others haughtily and with disdain. Use your knowledge to teach others.

Those who are fortunate to be healthy should remember the sick and if possible visit them or help them as best they can.

Those with talents for music, the arts, sports or whatever should share their talents with others. Imagine the good you can achieve as a sportsman if you visit a school and share a few moments coaching children in whatever it is you do. Or if a musician or celebrity shared a few moments with less talented yet aspiring youngsters. That visit would be imprinted on young memories for life – and may well inspire them to do better and achieve more.

Let’s all look at ourselves deeply and discover what wealth God has given us.

Money, good health, a talent for music, painting, singing or whatever … and let’s share it for the glory of, and in thanksgiving to, God our Creator.

Friday, 22 May 2015

Wednesday, 20 May 2015

HELLO ... How may I help you?

Travel Agent Lady: Hello ... how may I help you?

Me: Oh hi ... I'd like to book a room in a good hotel in Aberdeen for about a week.

TAL: Certainly Sir, when will that be?

Me: Now, right now ...

TAL: You'd like a room starting today, Sir?

Me: No ... no ... I'd like to book the room right now.

TAL: I understand ... and when would you like to stay in Aberdeen?

Me: Next month ... the week starting the 12th. I'll be staying for the whole week.

TAL: Do you have a preference of hotel Sir?

Me: No ... I don't know Aberdeen that well. I want a good hotel, not just a bed and breakfast.

TAL: Yes Sir. I have one available which I am sure will be suitable. May I have your name and address please Sir? ... ... ... And a telephone number where we can contact you? ... ... ... Thank you Sir. Will you require a single or a double bed room?

Me: Oh double bed ... a large bed. And make sure there's a TV too.

TAL: Yes Sir ... all rooms have a TV, telephone, Internet access, as well as adjoining bathroom and several other facilities. I'll be sending you a hotel brochure Sir. Meanwhile, I need a name for the other guest staying with you, Sir. Will that be Mrs M...?

Me: No ... no ... my wife will not be with me.

TAL: So it's just you, Sir?

Me: No ... me and Maurice.

TAL: Maurice ... That's the other guest ... May I have Maurice's surname please Sir?

Me: Just Maurice ... he has no surname ... Just Maurice and I will be staying for a week.

TAL: I understand Sir ... That's a double room for a week commencing the 12th of next month for yourself and Maurice. Will there be anything else Sir?

Me: Eh ... yes ... does the hotel have room service? Can we order beakfast and other meals to be delivered to our room? We'd rather stay in the room most of the time.

TAL: Yes Sir. There will be a menue in your room and you can phone your order which will be delivered at any time day or night. Some guests prefer to have a meal at all hours, like two in the morning, for example. This hotel will deliver any meal you wish to your room at any time for you and Maurice to enjoy.

Me: That sounds great ... One more thing. Will they also deliver bones?

TAL: Bones, Sir?

Me: Yes... raw bones, for Maurice.

TAL: I don't understand Sir.

Me: Maurice prefers raw bones before his performance.

TAL: I still don't understand Sir.

Me: We're in Aberdeen for the sheep dog trials. We're coming incognito. We'll enter the trials in the last possible moment. That's why we'll stay in the hotel room for as long as possible. Maurice is a champion sheepdog, and any news of his entrance in the show will affect the betting odds, you see.

TAL: Yes Sir ... I see clearly now ... (deep breath) ... I understand.

Monday, 18 May 2015

The Mommy Returns

Phone rings ... I answer ...

Hello! Oh hi darling ... Arrived already?

Yes ... the children are spending the night at the Thompson's ... Yes ... I know I was meant to pick you up from the railway station ...

I'm sorry you've been waiting so long ... Look darling ... can you not come home on your own?

Well ... there's a bit of a problem over here ...

There's a yellow jacket in the hallway ... just by the front door ...

No ... I can't get past it ... It's flying all over the place and buzzing menacingly ... You know how scared I am of them ... especially since that day there was one with me in the shower ...

I am not a wimp ... I was scalded badly with the hot shower that day ... Besides ... what if the yellow jacket had stung me in a delicate place?

That's not a nice thing to say ...

I know it's getting dark ... and there are no taxis or buses at the railway station ...

Can't you just walk home? I'm just too scared to get past the yellow jacket and come and get you ...

Yes you said it's getting dark ... just use the torch I got you for your birthday ...

I'm not being facetious ... I'll have you know I've been trapped in the back room for ages. I want to go to the bathroom and I dare not get out because of the yellow jacket. My legs are crossed over each other to hold it in ...

Yes I realise if you walk home you'll have to go through the park ...

The chances of you being mugged or attacked are minimal ... As our company accountant says often enough ... when working out probabilities you have to account for all factors ...

It means that the fact that there's a threatening yellow jacket here is a certainty ... but there's no certainty that someone is waiting to attack you in the park ... so the probability of me being stung is much higher than you being attacked ...

I'm not a yellow bellied coward darling ... Of course I love you ... You know I do ... Don't cry ... No I can't run past it with my legs crossed as they are ...

I don't know how it came in ... probably through the open window ... We don't have any wasp spray ... if we did it would not be here in the back room ...

I know wasps and flying insects don't get in the house when you're here ... they wouldn't dare ...

I didn't mean a thing by it ... it was just a joke ... darling ... I was joking ... don't hang up ... Darling!!!

Saturday, 16 May 2015

What does God want?


Many people spend their lives in prayers. Rosaries recited times on end. Preferred prayers and litanies from Saints. Novenas repeated ad infinitum. Or even just talking to God (with little listening perhaps) and asking Him over and again for our needs and wants.

But … apparently, this is not enough.

Others spend their lives reading about the Saints and other learned books about Christianity and our Faith?

Is this enough … or not yet?

Others attend Mass regularly, perhaps daily, take Communion, go to Confession and do as the Church teaches and commands.

Are we getting there … do we have a pass to Heaven or not yet?

Some people immerse themselves in good deeds. They do good works in Church. Attend Committee Meetings, help with the day to day running of the place, clean the church and do whatever else is needed.
How is our score now? Enough good points to enter Heaven?

And then … there are people who visit the sick, the elderly, the prisoners … they feed the poor and the down-and-outs and spend a lifetime of generosity both in time and effort as well as in financial terms doing as Christ commanded.

Surely they at the very least deserve Heaven.

The thing is … we really don’t know, or have not been taught WHAT GOD REALLY WANTS.

Christ made His commandment clear:

Love God and love one another as I have loved you.

But is this really possible? Has He set us an impossible task?

How can you love someone who has wronged you and continues to do so?

How can you spend your time helping others less well off than yourself when in reality there are times when you’d rather be at home with your family doing something else more pleasant?

How can you keep up doing good deeds and sacrificing yourself for others when you feel that you owe it to yourself (so they tell you) to be happy and to have it all? Being selfless and always thinking of others seems so unachievable at times.

The real reality is that we cannot love like Christ.

Because He is Christ, the Son of God, and we are not.

He loved and forgave His enemies on the Cross; but this is a step too far for most of us.

We are humans and He is God. He lived and died and was Resurrected again as God.

He loved and still loves as God. And His mercy and caring for us are the fruits of the love of God.
We cannot, nor are we meant to, love one another as He has loved us.

So we satisfy ourselves with acts of devotions, prayers and “too much religiosity”. We try to be kind and charitable and forgiving towards each other – and often fail to reach the standard required of us. But we try again, and should continue to do so.

We aim, and perhaps fail again, to achieve Sainthood. For His sake, For His mercy. And for His love.
But I suspect that Saints are made and not born. We are born sinners and through our deeds and actions we strive to walk the road to Sainthood.

Only He, through His Grace, can make us Saints.

Our job is to take the first step, in Faith, in Trust, and let Him do the rest.