Monday, August 19, 2019

August 25, 2019 The Lord’s Loving Discipline




Reading I:
 
Isaiah 66:18-21

Psalm: 117

Reading II: 
Hebrews
12:5-7, 11-13

Gospel: 
Luke 13:22-30



In today’s Gospel, we find Jesus traveling toward Jerusalem where He will soon be paying the ultimate price for our redemption on the cross. While teaching and preaching to people, He is aware that this will be His last opportunity, in His human form, to impress upon them the importance of 
taking His words seriously if they wish to join Him in heaven when they die. Just associating with Him will not be sufficient to gain a heavenly reward.

The second reading, the Epistle (letter) to the Hebrews, reflects upon the ideas in Proverbs 3:11-12 in the Hebrew Scriptures (Old Testament). The unknown author (possibly Priscilla or Barnabas) says: “My son, do not disdain the discipline of the Lord or lose heart when reproved by Him, for whom the Lord loves, He disciplines.”  The writer notes that discipline can seem painful, but its fruits are peace and holiness.

In his preaching, Jesus calls for faith in Him, repentance for sin, and observance of His Commandments, especially his commandment of love. Jesus has designed a special path for us to follow to lead us to our heavenly home with Him. He asks that His followers make a firm commitment to follow that path so that when they knock on Heaven’s Door, it will be opened for them.

Jesus said of Himself: “I am the Way, the Truth and the Life.” The more we spend time with Jesus in Bible study and prayer, the more we learn about Him and how to live our own lives.

I have a favorite story called The Great Stone Face, by Nathaniel Hawthorne. It is about a little boy, named Earnest, who lived by the White Mountains in New Hampshire where there was a formation on the side of a mountain which resembled a man’s strong, benevolent face.

There was a prediction that someday a man with a face resembling this stone face would come and help the little town. For years, people waited and sometimes mistakenly thought that the man had come, only to be disappointed. Little Earnest in the meantime used to study the face regularly and grew into a young man. Finally, his resemblance to the Great Stone Face became recognized.

I had the privilege of seeing the “Old Man of the Mountain” image on the side of the mountain before it had to be taken down because it was posing a danger of pieces falling and injuring people. It always reminded me that if we study Jesus on a regular basis, we can end up resembling Him.

Most of us at one time or another have been asked by a well-meaning person: “Are you saved?”  Expecting a “Yes” or “No” answer, they are often surprised when a Catholic responds, “I am trying to live a good Christian life, and Jesus will be my judge.” While we know that Jesus understands our weaknesses and is very merciful, still He expects us to take His words seriously and do the very best we can.

 Reflection Question:  How can I make time to regularly study Jesus in the Bible so that I can develop a personal relationship with Him, and then grow to become like Him?


Spanish Translation of Reflection Above...
La Disciplina Amorosa del Señor


En el Evangelio de hoy, encontramos a Jesús viajando hacia Jerusalén, donde pronto pagará el precio máximo por nuestra redención en la cruz. Mientras enseña y predica a las personas, es consciente de que esta será su última oportunidad, en su forma humana, para inculcarles la importancia de tomar sus palabras en serio si desean unirse a Él en el cielo cuando mueran. Solo asociarse con Él no será suficiente para obtener una recompensa celestial.

La segunda lectura, la Epístol (carta) a los Hebreos,  reflexiona sobre las ideas en Proverbios 3: 11-12 en las Escrituras Hebreas (Antiguo Testamento). The unknown author (possibly Priscilla or Barnabas) says: Hijo mío, no desdeñes la disciplina del Señor ni te desanimes cuando sea reprendido por Él, a quien el Señor ama, Él disciplina”.  El escritor señala que la disciplina puede parecer dolorosa, pero sus frutos son la paz y la santidad.

En su predicación, Jesús pide fe en él, arrepentimiento por el pecado y observancia de sus mandamientos, especialmente su mandamiento de amor. Jesús ha diseñado un camino especial que debemos seguir para llevarnos a nuestro hogar celestial con Él. Pide que sus seguidores se comprometan firmemente a seguir ese camino para que cuando llamen a Heaven's Door se les abra.

Jesús dijo de sí mismo: “Yo soy el camino, la verdad y la vida”. Cuanto más tiempo pasamos con Jesús en el estudio de la Biblia y la oración, más aprendemos acerca de Él y cómo vivir nuestras propias vidas.

Tengo una historia favorita llamada La Gran Cara de Piedra, by Nathaniel Hawthorne. Se trata de un niño pequeño, llamado Ernesto, que vivía junto a las Montañas Blancas en New Hampshire, donde había una formación en la ladera de una montaña que se parecía al rostro fuerte y benevolente de un hombre.

Había una predicción de que algún día un hombre con una cara similar a esta cara de piedra vendría y ayudaría a la pequeña ciudad. Durante años, la gente esperó y, a veces, erróneamente pensó que el hombre había venido, solo para decepcionarse. Mientras tanto, Little Earnest solía estudiar la cara regularmente y se convirtió en un hombre joven. Finalmente, su parecido con el Gran Rostro de Piedra fue reconocido.

Tuve el privilegio de ver esta imagen en la ladera de la montaña antes de tener que desmontarla porque representaba el peligro de que se cayeran piezas e hirieran a las personas. Siempre me recordó que si estudiamos a Jesús regularmente, podemos terminar pareciéndonos a Él.

La mayoría de nosotros en un momento u otro nos ha preguntado una persona bien intencionada: “¿Estás salvado?” Esperando una respuesta de “Sí” o “No” a menudo se sorprenden cuando un católico responde: “Estoy tratando de vivir una buena vida cristiana, y Jesús será mi juez”. Si bien sabemos que Jesús entiende nuestras debilidades y es muy misericordioso, todavía espera que tomemos sus palabras en serio y hagamos lo mejor que podamos.

 Pregunta de Reflexión:   ¿Cómo puedo hacer tiempo para estudiar regularmente a Jesús en la Biblia para poder desarrollar una relación personal con Él y luego llegar a ser como Él?


Comments:
Stephanie Morris, Ph. D, Historian, Certified Archivist, emerita
Do you have a few quiet moments with your cup of coffee or tea, when you might think about this week’s menu or draft a memo? Could you start these quiet moments with a brief review of that day’s scriptural readings or with a psalm? You can find the daily readings on the website of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops; this site has audio versions – they will read the scripture to you. Do you have some sacred songs on your playlist? Do you have a few favorite hymns? Can you spend a few minutes thinking about some of the special meanings a phrase or refrain has for you? God has given us 24 hours today; can we give Him a few extra minutes?

Pat Chiaffa, ASBS
I have mentioned before how very much I cherish my morning time alone with the Lord, my “Jesus and Java time” as I like to refer to it. My day starts around 4:00 am, and it always goes much better when I start the day nourished with reflection on His Word. My Type A personality drives me to cling to schedules, and sometimes it is obsessive. But when it comes to creating space to optimize my prayer time, my routine grounds me. What works for me is to set aside a specific time and place each day, to have my Bible and devotionals in place, and to set my intention every time I begin.
My kitchen table is the meeting spot where I connect with Jesus each morning. It is quiet, comfortable, and I find that sitting upright in a hard-back chair keeps me focused and alert. My Bible and daily devotionals remain on the table just fingertips away. My intention is to hear the message, relevant word or phrase that God wants me to hear for that day. My day is off to a gentle, peaceful start…and then my morning commute begins. During my drive to work, I play a CD of the Rosary that keeps me prayerful as I navigate through the morning rush hour. Instead of cussing at those aggressive drivers that cut me off, pass me by or plant themselves firmly on my bumper, I assail them with a Hail Mary. Now take that and have a blessed day you maniac!
The morning readings often come to mind during the day, and, as a result of long-term adherence to this spiritual practice, I am more conscious of Christ’s Presence in my life and in the world. Conversation with the Lord, while driving to work, performing tasks at the office, carrying out household chores and errands, and any activity in which I am involved, is comfortable. I ask Jesus how He would like me to handle situations. This practice helps me to respond respectfully and responsibly to people and circumstances. My desire is to be more Christ-like in all my interactions.
Episcopal priest Matthew Fox writes: “There is something in everyone …that waits, listens for the sound of the genuine in yourself and if you cannot hear it, you will never find whatever it is for which you are searching.”  I believe this to be true and regard the process of waiting and listening as moving toward becoming the person I was created to be. For me, entering into solitude is a necessity if I am to quiet the chatter in my mind long enough to allow for connecting with and befriending Spirit who will guide me ever closer to Jesus and to my
true self.

Monday, August 12, 2019

August 18, 2019 Challenges of Jesus

August 18, 2019   Challenges of Jesus - Year C

Reading I: 
Jeremiah 38:4-6, 8-10

Psalm:  40

Readings II:  Hebrews 12:1-4

Gospel:  Luke 12:49-53

Are you ever surprised that sometimes when you look at a situation, yet another person sees the same thing, but interprets it very differently from you? Well, this is not something new.

Jesus, Himself, had that same experience. In the Gospel of John (7:41). Jesus was preaching to some people who were so impressed that they believed Him to be long-awaited Messiah. Others in the group did not believe that He could be the Christ because He came from Galilee, and they argued that He was supposed to come from Bethlehem.

When Jesus cured a blind man on the Sabbath (Jn 9:16), some claimed that if He wouldn’t observe the Sabbath, He couldn’t be from God. On the other hand, other people believed that He had to be of God to be able to perform the miracle. 

In spite of the fact that Jesus’ mission was to bring about a Kingdom of His Father, characterized by unity and love, He experienced discord. Jesus strove to be a unifier. His message was one of love. It must have been so painful for Him to have Himself, His preaching and compassion misunderstood. 

Jesus expressed His grief in the following words: “Jerusalem, Jerusalem, you that kill the prophets and stone those who are sent to you. How often have I longed to gather your children as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings and you refused.” (Mt 3:37) When I had the privilege of sitting on a rock in the Garden of Gethsemane overlooking Jerusalem, those words came to me and touched me deeply.

Division can be very painful. Today, devout parents who brought up their children with faith grieve when those children turn away from their faith. The pain of seeing their beloved grandchildren deprived of what is so important for their long-term happiness is difficult to witness.

There is a normal tendency for teens and young adults to assert their independence in a variety of ways. I can recall when I was in high school that I decided that I would not be a Catholic just because my parents were. I read books on apologetics (defending the faith) which led me to embrace the faith personally. Of course, the Holy Spirit also was guiding me.

However, today there is also the disillusionment from scandals related to clergy misconduct and some peoples’ sense that they do not need God. Sometimes, they are brought back to faith when they mature and realize the weakness of human nature and/or they have hardships which make them turn back to God for help.

What can we do? In the meantime, we are to love them, pray for them, and give them the example of a truly faith-filled person. A favorite prayer of mine is “Lord, into your hands I commend __________’s spirit.”

 Reflection Question:  Is there someone who is struggling with faith issues for whom you can pray or offer help?


Spanish Translation of Reflection Above...
Desafíos de Jesús


¿Alguna vez te sorprende que a veces cuando miras una situación, otra persona ve lo mismo, pero lo interpreta de manera muy diferente a ti? Bueno, esto no es algo nuevo.

Jesús mismo tuvo esa misma experiencia. En el Evangelio de Juan (7:41). Jesús estaba predicando a algunas personas que estaban tan impresionadas que creían que era el Mesías tan esperado. Otros en el grupo no creían que Él podría ser el Cristo porque vino de Galilea y argumentaron que se suponía que debía venir de Belén.

Cuando Jesús curó a un ciego en sábado (Jn 9:16), algunos afirmaron que si no observaba el sábado, no podría ser de Dios. Por otro lado, otras personas creían que tenía que ser de Dios para poder realizar el milagro.

A pesar de que la misión de Jesús era lograr un Reino de su Padre, caracterizado por la unidad y el amor, experimentó discordia. Jesús se esforzó por ser unificador.  Su mensaje fue de amor. Debe haber sido tan doloroso para Él haberse entendido mal, su predicación y compasión.

Jesús expresó su dolor en las siguientes palabras: Jerusalén, Jerusalén, tú que matas a los profetas y apedreas a los que te son enviados. “Cuántas veces he anhelado reunir a tus hijos cuando una gallina junta sus polluelos bajo sus alas y tú te niegas”. (Mt 3:37) Cuando tuve el privilegio de sentarme en una roca en el Jardín de Getsemaní con vista a Jerusalén, esas palabras me llegaron y me conmovieron profundamente.

La división puede ser muy dolorosa. Hoy, los padres devotos que criaron a sus hijos con fe se afligen cuando esos niños se alejan de su fe. Es difícil presenciar el dolor de ver a sus queridos nietos privados de lo que es tan importante para su felicidad a largo plazo.

Hay una tendencia normal para que los adolescentes y adultos jóvenes afirmen su independencia de varias maneras. Puedo recordar cuando estaba en la escuela secundaria que decidí que no sería católica solo porque mis padres lo eran. Leí libros sobre apologética (defender la fe) que me llevaron a abrazar la fe personalmente. Por supuesto, el Espíritu Santo también me estaba guiando.

Sin embargo, hoy también existe la desilusión de los escándalos relacionados con la mala conducta del clero y la sensación de algunas personas de que no necesitan a Dios. A veces, vuelven a la fe cuando maduran y se dan cuenta de la debilidad de la naturaleza humana y / o tienen dificultades que los hacen volver a Dios en busca de ayuda.

¿Qué podemos hacer? Mientras tanto, debemos amarlos, orar por ellos y darles el ejemplo de una persona verdaderamente llena de fe. Una de mis oraciones favoritas es Señor, en tus manos encomiendo el espíritu de __________”.

 Pregunta de Reflexión:  ¿Hay alguien que está luchando con problemas de fe por los cuales puede orar u ofrecer ayuda?


Comments:
Stephanie Morris, Ph. D, Historian, Certified Archivist, emerita
We can always pray for family and friends without giving God details of specific needs – He knows already. We just need to ask God to help them. We can assist those struggling with faith issues by being a good example of what a “faith-filled” person is/ does. Strengthen our own personal faith so that it shines like a lighthouse, radiating God’s love and mercy. If someone asks you a question about faith, listen to what and how they ask. Answer their question and guide them from what they know and feel to knowing God’s love and feeling God’s mercy.

Pat Chiaffa, ASBS
I really appreciate the prayer you shared with us. I am one of the grieving parents you mention whose children have turned away from the faith.  Thus, I will name each of my sons in commending their spirits to Our Lord. What I find uplifting about this prayer is that I release my control of the outcome, trusting that God will meet the unique needs of each person for whom I pray. I include my mother, knowing that God knows my concern for her health and ease of daily living. I name my estranged sister hoping for healing and connection.  It is a wonderful prayer to whisper for all those for whom I have promised to pray. I am finding this aspiration very freeing to recite when I am feeling aversion toward leaders who abuse their status and make decisions that put the lives of innocent victims at risk.  I experience greater inner peace when, instead of complaining about someone or getting worked up about an issue, I offer that person or cause in prayer to Our Lord who loves us all unconditionally. 
In his recent series entitled, “Black Women Mystics,” Richard Rohr highlighted the writings of Dr. Diana L. Hayes, the first African American woman to earn a Pontifical Doctorate in Theology. Dr. Hayes writes, “This is our calling as Christian faithful: to recognize the Christ in everyone. And to reach out a hand of hope, to speak a word of love, to sing a song of happiness, to share a tear of joy or pain, to speak a word of praise, to murmur a prayer, to stand together against those forces that would divide us, isolate us, and block our flow toward home.”
Dr. Hayes cites Micah 6:8 as the basis for her belief: 
       You have been told…what is good
       And what the Lord requires of you:
       Only to do the right and to love goodness,
       And to walk humbly with your God.
As I journey through life, troubled by the appearance of darkness, and dismayed at the incomprehensible acts we commit against one another, it is easy to get drawn into the negative energy that surrounds me. It is, therefore, good to recall the Scripture passage from Micah often, knowing my peace depends on my ability to keep my focus on Christ’s Light and Love. Centered in Christ’s love, I am able to resist the temptation to react to the ill behaviors of others and recognize within them the suffering Christ. From a place of compassion, I commend their Spirit to the Lord, our true Source of hope and healing.
Imagine how lovely the global landscape would be if all Christians embraced and embodied the call to “recognize the Christ in everyone.”

Monday, August 5, 2019

August 11, 2019 - Stewardship

August 11, 2019  -  Good Stewards 

Reading I:  
Wisdom 18:6-9

Psalm:  33

Reading II:  Hebrews
11:1-2, 8-19

Gospel:  Luke
12:32-48

In today’s Gospel, Luke presents Jesus teaching his disciples about being good stewards. In the parable, the master returns from a wedding and is happy to find that his servants have been good stewards. They have taken care of his properties in the way he wished.  In fact, he is so delighted with their stewardship that he prepares a banquet for them and serves them himself.

Jesus reminds his listeners that they do not know when the second coming of the Master (Jesus) will be. He urges them to be prepared for that coming by being good stewards of all the gifts he has given them.

The thought of stewardship always reminds me of  St. Katharine Drexel and her family.  Katharine's father, Francis Anthony Drexel, was a devout Catholic who became a rich Philadelphia banker.  He considered himself as a steward of the wealth he had accumulated. He believed he was to use it for his family and those in need.  Often missionaries to the Indians would come to ask assistance for the needs of the people on their missions.

Mr. Drexel’s wife, Emma Bouvier Drexel, was also very devout and had the same belief that she was to use money to help those in need. At a time when the slaves had recently been freed, it was difficult for them to find jobs because of lack of education and opportunities.

Each week, Emma with the assistance of the children: Elizabeth, Katharine and Louise, welcomed needy people at their door. They distributed food, clothing, rent money, etc. to those in need.

Both parents wanted their children to be sensitive to the needs of the poor. Mr. Drexel took the young women to see the Indian missions and meet the people in person.  Mrs. Drexel had the children converse with those coming to the door so that they would recognize them as human beings like themselves who had just come on hard times.  The result was that as adult women they each continued to reach out to people in need.

In fact when St. Katharine took the three vows of a religious: poverty, chastity and obedience, she added a fourth personal vow to be the “Mother and Servant of the Indian and Colored Peoples.” She also founded the Sisters of the Blessed Sacrament to help her minister primarily, but not exclusively, among the Indian and Black peoples. The ultimate goal was that all be united as children of one heavenly Father.

Most of us are not wealthy. However, we all have something to contribute to the good of others.  Some have time to visit the elderly, the lonely, the sick and/or those in prison. Others have talents which can help others. I have heard of people giving haircuts to homeless people. We hear of people fixing buildings, etc. on the missions and in low-income areas. We have people cooking meals for those in need. Finally, there are some who do have the money to contribute to many good causes.

Whether our treasure is in time, or talent, or money, when we share with our brothers and sisters, we are good stewards of the gifts that our Father has entrusted to us for the good of all. 

 Reflection Question:  Which of the Lord’s gifts might I use to help a brother or sister this week?

Spanish Translation of Reflection Above...
Good Stewards

En el Evangelio de hoy, Lucas presenta a Jesús enseñando a sus discípulos acerca de ser buenos mayordomos. En la parábola, el maestro regresa de una boda y está feliz de descubrir que sus sirvientes han sido buenos mayordomos. Se han ocupado de sus propiedades de la manera que él deseaba. De hecho, él está tan encantado con su mayordomía que prepara un banquete para ellos y los sirve él mismo.

Jesús les recuerda a sus oyentes que no saben cuándo será la segunda venida del Maestro (Jesús). Los insta a estar preparados para esa venida siendo buenos administradores de todos los regalos que les ha dado.

La idea de la mayordomía siempre me recuerda a Santa Katharine Drexel y su familia. El padre de Katharine, Francis Anthony Drexel, era un católico devoto que se convirtió en un rico banquero de Filadelfia. Se consideraba un administrador de la riqueza que había acumulado. Él creía que debía usarlo para su familia y los necesitados. A menudo, los misioneros de los indios venían a pedir ayuda para las necesidades de las personas en sus misiones.

La esposa del Sr. Drexel, Emma Bouvier Drexel, también era muy devota y tenía la misma creencia de que debía usar el dinero para ayudar a los necesitados. En un momento en que los esclavos habían sido liberados recientemente, les resultaba difícil encontrar trabajo debido a la falta de educación y oportunidades.

Cada semana, Emma, ​​con la ayuda de los niños: Elizabeth, Katharine y Louise, dieron la bienvenida a las personas necesitadas en su puerta. Distribuyeron comida, ropa, renta, etc. a los necesitados.

Ambos padres querían que sus hijos fueran sensibles a las necesidades de los pobres. El Sr. Drexel llevó a las jóvenes a ver las misiones indias y conocer a las personas en persona. La Sra. Drexel hizo que los niños conversaran con los que venían a la puerta para que los reconocieran como seres humanos como ellos que acababan de pasar por momentos difíciles. El resultado fue que, como mujeres adultas, cada una de ellas continuó llegando a las personas necesitadas.


De hecho, cuando Santa Catalina tomó los tres votos de un religioso: pobreza, castidad y obediencia, agregó un cuarto voto personal para ser la “Madre y Sierva de los Pueblos Indios y de Color”. También fundó las Hermanas del Santísimo Sacramento para ayudarla a ministrar principalmente, pero no exclusivamente, entre los pueblos indios y negros. El objetivo final era que todos se unieran como hijos de un Padre celestial.

La mayoría de nosotros no somos ricos. Sin embargo, todos tenemos algo que contribuir al bien de los demás. Algunos tienen tiempo para visitar a los ancianos, los solitarios, los enfermos y / o los encarcelados. Otros tienen talentos que pueden ayudar a otros. He oído hablar de personas que cortan el cabello a personas sin hogar. Oímos de personas arreglando edificios, etc. en las misiones y en áreas de bajos ingresos. Tenemos personas preparando comidas para los necesitados. Finalmente, hay algunos que tienen el dinero para contribuir a muchas buenas causas.

Ya sea que nuestro tesoro sea a tiempo, o talento o dinero, cuando compartimos con nuestros hermanos y hermanas, somos buenos administradores de los dones que nuestro Padre nos ha confiado para el bien de todos.

 Pregunta de Reflexíon:  ¿Cuál de los dones del Señor podría usar para ayudar a un hermano o hermana esta semana?


Comments:
Stephanie Morris, Ph. D, Historian, Certified Archivist, emerita
What are the gifts the Lord has given me?  I have a voice – I can call a shut-in or relative with whom I have not spoken in a long time. Can you knit? This summer’s heat does not cry out for a scarf or hat or lap robe (the air conditioning might warrant the last). But we could make these small items in readiness for clothing drives that happen in the fall and winter. Are you going food shopping this week? Could you purchase an extra box of cereal for a food drive? We don’t have to feed thousands as Our Lord did on a mountainside; we can help one person or one family with a small gift of food as part of a food drive.

Pat Chiaffa, ASBS
Deborah Rexrode, an elder at First Presbyterian Church in Charlottesville, VA, wrote the following statement regarding the challenges of stewardship as it applies to the church, “Stewardship should be a part of everything we do throughout all the seasons of our ministries… It is a spiritual discipline and a way of living that helps us to manage what God has entrusted to us and to teach others the true joy of giving as a response to God’s generosity. We are called to be good stewards of all that we have: stewards of time, stewards of gifts, stewards of resources, stewards of relationships, stewards of ministry, stewards of the knowledge of God, stewards of the people in our community of faith, stewards of the mysteries of God.”
Deborah developed her thoughts in alignment with the seasons of the year, which led me to think about stewardship in light of the seasons of life. By changing the phrase ‘seasons of our ministries,’ to the ‘seasons of our life,’ we have a doable guide for following Jesus’ call to Stewardship. 
I must confess that I am still growing in my sense of stewardship. I struggle with being generous with my treasure, time and talents.  When I view Stewardship as a big-ticket item, I shy away from doing anything. I hide behind excuses - there is just not enough time, my resources are limited, and my talents are puny. However, pondered in light of Deborah’s expansive definition, I am able to truthfully acknowledge my status (busy life, budget-conscious, trying to discern the talents through which I can serve) and look for smaller ways I can contribute to Jesus’ call to live a lifestyle of Stewardship. For starters, I can stop grumbling about how tired and time-deprived I am as a result of all the moving activities I am involved in with mom’s house cleanout and relocation. I can simply offer this season of caregiving up to the Lord. I might not be able to end the plight of the beggars outside the places I shop or the roads I travel, but I can offer a dollar, a smile and a sincere, “God Bless You.” I can pick-up someone’s trash (minus my critical judgment of their fitness as a human being) and say “thank you” to the Lord for the gift of our beautiful earth. These small actions, performed with awareness and gratitude for life itself, help me become more God-centered and less self-centered. 
In the season of my childhood, the slogan of the household was, “It’s every man for himself.” We were a family that erected tall fences as barriers to keep others out. I can remember that I shared NOTHING! You touch my toy and I’ll knock you out!  Small wonder I had no friends. I was sad and lonely. Fortunately, I outgrew that season. It certainly influenced my parenting style when I entered the season of parenthood.  No doubt the messages we receive from our parents as children have an impact on how we interpret the world in which we live. A spirit of giving instills sharing and openness; while the habit of holding tightly produces fearfulness and isolation. We see this in large scale today as countries zealously defend their borders, deaf to the cries of the suffering people calling for compassion.
When I retire and begin still another new season of life, I hope to contribute time to my community without the restraints I currently impose on myself.  For today, I will look for smaller-scale opportunities to be a conscientious steward of all God’s gifts.