Many long for the promise of Christ to be fulfilled

The theme for this issue of The Bishop’s Bulletin is the influence for good or ill of “screens” which is a sound bite for the technical reality of the dominance of the communication vehicles of our day – cell phones, Facebook, Twitter, the web and so much more. There is value in all of them and the possibility of evil, often unknowing and addictive.

This focus on “Screen Time: Finding the balance and enjoying the best of it” encouraged me to reflect on my screen time. Do I have that balance? Not always.

We live in an age of brevity – headlines with only a few words, breaking news with only an alarming alert, comments about others with only a simplistic judgment.

In the midst of all this, many long for the promise of Christ to be fulfilled: “I make all things new.” The fact is that he has already done so. What is new is the call to listen to one another even when we disagree, new in respecting and caring about one another even those we have a hard time liking because we are all children of God, new in not allowing distractions to interfere with deepening our relationship with Christ through His Church.

Sometimes we long to escape all of the noise, words and agendas if only for a brief respite, discovering words of wisdom grounded in history offered by wise men and women with seasoned advice. One helpful resource for me is an app on the internet that reproduces brief “quotes” from the famous and not so famous. Sometimes the snippets make me laugh, sometimes they make me think and sometimes they make me wonder. All are worthwhile.

These are some of my favorites from Quotes Folder in no particular order:

“The trouble with law is lawyers.” (Clarence Darrow)

“If there were no bad people, there would be no good lawyers.” (Charles Dickens)

“A sense of humor is part of the art of leadership, of getting along with people, of getting things done.” (Dwight Eisenhower)

“The higher the voice, the smaller the intellect.” (Ernest Newman)

“If God can work through me, he can work through anyone.” (St. Francis)

“Time has a wonderful way of weeding out the trivial.” (Howard Aiken)

“I think we are miserable because we have only one god, and that’s economics.” (James Hillman)

“Facts are stubborn things and whatever may be our wishes, our inclinations, or the dictates of our passions, they cannot alter the state of facts and evidence.”(John Quincey Adams)

“You can always tell a real friend: when you’ve made a fool of yourself he doesn’t feel you’ve done a permanent job.” (Laurence J. Peter)

“Growing old is like being increasingly penalized for a crime you haven’t committed.” (Pierre Teilhard de Chardin)

“When we get older, our bodies get shorter and our anecdotes longer.” (Robert Quillen)

“It was an old friend who thought he was dying. Anyway, he said, ‘life and death issues don’t come along that often, thank God, so don’t treat everything like it’s life or death. Go easier.’” (Thomas Arnold)

“What makes old age hard to bear is not the failing of faculties, mental and physical, but the burden of one’s memories.” (W. Somerset Maugham)

“When one teaches, two learn.” (Robert Half)

“It is a common delusion that you make things better by talking about them.” (Rose Macaulay)

St. Mother Teresa of Calcutta was known for such brief pithy statements that pack a spiritual wallop:

“I believe politicians spend too little time on their knees.”

“Every day at Communion time I communicate two of my feelings to Jesus. One is gratefulness for He has helped me persevere until today. The other is a request: teach me to pray.”

“Today it is fashionable to talk about the poor. Unfortunately it is not fashionable to talk with them.”

“If abortion becomes legalized in rich countries, those countries are the poorest in the world.”

“God does not demand that I be successful. God demands that I am faithful.”

“Peace and war begin at home.”

“Peace begins with a smile.”

“In the developed countries there is a poverty of intimacy, a poverty of spirit, of loneliness, a lack of love. There is no greater sickness in the world than this.”

“Gandhi felt fascinated at knowing Christ. He met Christians, and felt let down.”

Jesus was adept at such brief but powerful words that pack a punch. Just read the Sermon on the Mount which contains these pride breaking gems:

“You are the salt of the earth…You are the light of the world…Your light must shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your heavenly Father.”

“When someone strikes you on your right cheek, turn the other to him as well.”

“Should anyone press you into service for one mile, go with him for two miles.”

“But I say to you, love your enemies, and pray for those who persecute you.”

“If you forgive others their transgressions, your heavenly Father will forgive you.”

“Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and decay destroy…But store up treasures in heaven…For where your treasure is, there also will your heart be.”

“No one can serve two masters…You cannot serve both God and mammon.”

“Stop judging that you many may not be judged. For as you judge, so will you be judged, and the measure with which you measure will be measured back to you.”

“Do to others whatever you would have them do to you.”

“Everyone who listens to these words of mine and acts on them will be like a wise man who built his house on rock. The rain fell, the floods came, and the winds blew and buffeted the house. But it did not collapse; it had been set solidly on rock.”

“And so I say to you, you are Peter, and upon this rock I will build my Church, and the gates of the netherworld shall not prevail against it.”

These words of our Lord are ones of comfort, encouragement and hope in these challenging times. May we listen to Him and act upon them, as he calls us to do.

And may we have balance in our screen time.

Bishop Swain's Column, October 2018