LIFE LINES

“Why is light given to the toilers, and life to the bitter in spirit?” —Job 3:20

Nearly all of us can identify in some way with Job’s misery. Sometimes life is bitter (Jb 3:20) and full of drudgery (Jb 7:1). Relief eludes us (Jb 3:13), and death seems better than any hidden treasure the future could possibly hold (Jb 3:21). Then it gets worse. We “have forgotten what happiness is” (Lam 3:17; Jb 7:7).
When life is no longer worth living, then we’ve forgotten what life really is. To be more specific, we’ve forgotten Who Life is. Jesus is Life (Jn 11:25; 14:6). Because Jesus is Life, our lives are full of meaning, power, and hope, no matter how miserable our circumstances. Because we are alive, we Christians carry in our bodies the life of Jesus (2 Cor 4:10). His life is revealed in our bodies, even though we are being delivered to death (2 Cor 4:11).
Jesus enables us to become better instead of bitter. On the cross, Jesus overcame all the bitterness and misery that ever existed. He understands our pain and misery far better than we do (Heb 2:17-18). Jesus, the Deliverer (Ps 18:3), sometimes rescues us from “the pit” (Ps 40:2-3). If He doesn’t rescue us from “the bottom of the pit” (Ps 88:7), then He does something even better: He comes into the pit with us and shares His life with us (Ps 23:4; Mt 1:23, 28:20). We Christians believe that it’s far better to be in the pit with Jesus than to be comfortable without Him (see Ps 84:11). With Jesus the Life by our side, we have life “to the full” (Jn 10:10).

Prayer: Jesus, “to me, ‘life’ means” You (Phil 1:21). Thank You for the gift of my life.
Promise: Jesus “firmly resolved to proceed toward Jerusalem.” —Lk 9:51
Praise: St. Vincent, who converted his slavemaster, lived life to the full through his countless acts of generosity and love.

Serving the poor is to be preferred above all things

A writing of
St Vincent de Paul
[ 1581 – 1660 A.D. ]

Although in his passion he almost lost the appearance of a man and was considered a fool by the Gentiles and a stumbling block by the Jews, he showed them that his mission was to preach to the poor: He sent me to preach the good news to the poor. We also ought to have this same spirit and imitate Christ’s actions, that is, we must take care of the poor, console them, help them, support their cause.Even though the poor are often rough and unrefined, we must not judge them from external appearances nor from the mental gifts they seem to have received. On the contrary, if you consider the poor in the light of faith, then you will observe that they are taking the place of the Son of God who chose to be poor.
Since Christ willed to be born poor, he chose for himself disciples who were poor. He made himself the servant of the poor and shared their poverty. He went so far as to say that he would consider every deed which either helps or harms the poor as done for or against himself. Since God surely loves the poor, he also loves those who love the poor. For when one person holds another dear, he also includes in his affection anyone who loves or serves the one he loves. That is why we hope that God will love us for the sake of the poor. So when we visit the poor and needy, we try to understand the poor and weak. We sympathise with them so fully that we can echo Paul’s words: I have become all things to all men. Therefore, we must try to be stirred by our neighbours’ worries and distress. We must beg God to pour into our hearts sentiments of pity and compassion and to fill them again and again with these dispositions.
It is our duty to prefer the service of the poor to everything else and to offer such service as quickly as possible. If a needy person requires medicine or other help during prayer time, do whatever has to be done with peace of mind. Offer the deed to God as your prayer. Do not become upset or feel guilty because you interrupted your prayer to serve the poor. God is not neglected if you leave him for such service. One of God’s works is merely interrupted so that another can be carried out. So when you leave prayer to serve some poor person, remember that this very service is performed for God. Charity is certainly greater than any rule. Moreover, all rules must lead to charity. Since she is a noble mistress, we must do whatever she commands. With renewed devotion, then, we must serve the poor, especially outcasts and beggars. They have been given to us as our masters and patrons.
Even though the poor are often rough and unrefined, we must not judge them from external appearances nor from the mental gifts they seem to have received. On the contrary, if you consider the poor in the light of faith, then you will observe that they are taking the place of the Son of God who chose to be poor.

THE ONE-TWO PUNCH

“The Lord said to Satan, ‘Behold, all that he has is in your power.’ ” —Job 1:12
 
Satan is the father of lies (Jn 8:44). He is the expert in tempting us. For example, he tried to get Job to say something “disrespectful of God” (Jb 1:22) and to curse God (Jb 2:9). Job, however, did not fall for Satan’s series of temptations. First, Satan had the Sabeans steal Job’s oxen and asses (Jb 1:14-15). In our economy, this would have been a theft of several thousand dollars worth of property. Next, lightning struck and destroyed more of Job’s property, killing some of his employees (Jb 1:16). If Job hadn’t forgiven the Sabeans and placed the first catastrophe in God’s hands, he might have blamed God for the second catastrophe. This would have turned his heart from God and planted a seed which would have grown into a sin of disrespect and cursing against God.
After this one-two punch failed, Satan tried it again on Job, but with greater intensity. The Chaldeans robbed Job of camels which were probably worth much more than Job’s oxen and asses (Jb 1:17). These Chaldeans also murdered several of Job’s employees (Jb 1:17). If Job had hated these Chaldeans for their crimes, he probably would have sinned and been knocked out when he heard the devastating news that all ten of his children had been killed in an accident (Jb 1:18-19). Doesn’t bad news often come in pairs or bunches? Don’t we often get the worst news when we already feel bad? That’s why we must turn to God, forgive, and shake off the first punch before the second one hits.
 
Prayer: Father, give me wisdom and love so that I will not be outwitted by the evil one (see 2 Cor 2:11).
Promise: “Whoever welcomes this little child on My account welcomes Me, and whoever welcomes Me welcomes Him Who sent Me; for the least one among you is the greatest.” —Lk 9:48
Praise: Sts. Cosmas & Damian used their giftedness in medicine to minister to God’s sick and wounded free of charge