Monday, September 22, 2014


St. Paul to the Philippians &
I to you...

Brothers and sisters:
Christ will be magnified in my body, whether by life or by death. 
For to me life is Christ, and death is gain. 
If I go on living in the flesh,
that means fruitful labor for me. 
And I do not know which I shall choose. 
I am caught between the two. 
I long to depart this life and be with Christ,
for that is far better. 
Yet that I remain in the flesh
is more necessary for your benefit.

This quote is from the Scripture that was read this morning 

at Catholic Masses around the world.  It was read just in 

front of the story of the workers who were called to the 

vineyard at different times but all got paid the same.

I am willing to gamble big fake $ that not one single

priest in the world dared to preach about the passage 

above.  So I am doing it.

As you all know, everyone wants to go to heaven, but no one is willing to die.  We all know that we are going there, but not too many of us are really looking forward to passing away to get there.  When I heard the thoughts that Paul threw at us many years ago, he was ready.  What I like about him is that he was really at home with himself.  It takes a very strong individual to be able to safely say that "I am caught between the two [life and death] and that death is far better than life here on earth.  You really have to have it together to be comfortable with that sentiment.  
I confess that I am there.  I have no problem with that part of the thought.  I deal with that every day.

The thought that "it is more necessary for your benefit that I remain in the flesh" is where I wonder about saying that to anyone.  That is the part where I know that only about 50% of those who know me would agree.  The other 50% would wish that I would not be so full of myself and just move on.  Imagine having the self image that Paul had and the security of his relationship with God to be able to say that.  I believe that God keeps me here because He has something for me to do.  I tell Him that all the time.  I imagine that He thinks that I am doing a good job and that he is pleased with me, but I keep that kind of talk between me and Him.  Except right here and for this moment alone.  

I'm sitting here at 1:00 AM and thinking that God wants us to have the kind of personal strength that Paul had.  God needs us to have that kind of courage.  He wants us to have a good strong side by side relationship with Him so that we can do the work that He expects us to do.  He wants us to be able to admit that we are valuable to Him.  he wants us to be able to stand before the world and to admit that we are good at doing His work.  He looks forward to our saying, "God keeps me here because it is for your benefit that He keeps me here."  If Saint Paul can say that, why can't we?  Are we going to think that he was arrogant in proclaiming that truth?  Is that what keeps us from saying the same thing, although we might be thinking it from time to time.  

You know why Paul could talk that way?  It's because he knew that his faith in God was so strong that it was not he speaking, but God through him.  Paul knew that as long as he stayed with God, he could walk on water, move mountains and make the lame walk and make the Greeks and the rest of the world accept the God whom Paul was announcing and serving.

Well,my name is Paul.  My father named me Paul because he was a serious disciple of Paul.  I am telling you that I am ready to die.  I am also telling you that I believe that as long as I stay here it is for your benefit because that's how God wants it.  Therefore, neither you nor anyone else has absolutely any reason to be crying at my funeral.
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