Saturday, December 2, 2017


"The preacher must dip his pen into the blood of his heart; then he can also reach the ear of his neighbor."
Gregory the Great

28 May 2008, 4 June 2008.

Saint Gregory the Great

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

Today I would like to present the figure of one of the greatest Fathers in the history of the Church, one of four Doctors of the West, Pope St Gregory, who was Bishop of Rome from 590 to 604, and who earned the traditional title of Magnus/the Great. Gregory was truly a great Pope and a great Doctor of the Church! He was born in Rome about 540 into a rich patrician family of the gens Anicia, who were distinguished not only for their noble blood but also for their adherence to the Christian faith and for their service to the Apostolic See. Two Popes came from this family: Felix III (483-492), the great-great grandfather of Gregory, and Agapetus (535-536). The house in which Gregory grew up stood on the Clivus Scauri, surrounded by majestic buildings that attested to the greatness of ancient Rome and the spiritual strength of Christianity. The example of his parents Gordian and Sylvia, both venerated as Saints, and those of his father's sisters, Aemiliana and Tharsilla, who lived in their own home as consecrated virgins following a path of prayer and self-denial, inspired lofty Christian sentiments in him.

In the footsteps of his father, Gregory entered early into an administrative career which reached its climax in 572 when he became Prefect of the city. This office, complicated by the sorry times, allowed him to apply himself on a vast range to every type of administrative problem, drawing light for future duties from them. In particular, he retained a deep sense of order and discipline: having become Pope, he advised Bishops to take as a model for the management of ecclesial affairs the diligence and respect for the law like civil functionaries . Yet this life could not have satisfied him since shortly after, he decided to leave every civil assignment in order to withdraw to his home to begin the monastic life, transforming his family home into the monastery of St Andrew on the Coelian Hill. This period of monastic life, the life of permanent dialogue with the Lord in listening to his word, constituted a perennial nostalgia which he referred to ever anew and ever more in his homilies. In the midst of the pressure of pastoral worries, he often recalled it in his writings as a happy time of recollection in God, dedication to prayer and peaceful immersion in study. Thus, he could acquire that deep understanding of Sacred Scripture and of the Fathers of the Church that later served him in his work.

But the cloistered withdrawal of Gregory did not last long. The precious experience that he gained in civil administration during a period marked by serious problems, the relationships he had had in this post with the Byzantines and the universal respect that he acquired induced Pope Pelagius to appoint him deacon and to send him to Constantinople as his "apocrisarius" - today one would say "Apostolic Nuncio" in order to help overcome the last traces of the Monophysite controversy and above all to obtain the Emperor's support in the effort to check the Lombard invaders. The stay at Constantinople, where he resumed monastic life with a group of monks, was very important for Gregory, since it permitted him to acquire direct experience of the Byzantine world, as well as to approach the problem of the Lombards, who would later put his ability and energy to the test during the years of his Pontificate. After some years he was recalled to Rome by the Pope, who appointed him his secretary. They were difficult years: the continual rain, flooding due to overflowing rivers, the famine that afflicted many regions of Italy as well as Rome. Finally, even the plague broke out, which claimed numerous victims, among whom was also Pope Pelagius II. The clergy, people and senate were unanimous in choosing Gregory as his successor to the See of Peter. He tried to resist, even attempting to flee, but to no avail: finally, he had to yield. The year was 590.

Recognising the will of God in what had happened, the new Pontiff immediately and enthusiastically set to work. From the beginning he showed a singularly enlightened vision of realty with which he had to deal, an extraordinary capacity for work confronting both ecclesial and civil affairs, a constant and even balance in making decisions, at times with courage, imposed on him by his office. 
Abundant documentation has been preserved from his governance thanks to the Register of his Letters (approximately 800), reflecting the complex questions that arrived on his desk on a daily basis. They were questions that came from Bishops, Abbots, clergy and even from civil authorities of every order and rank. Among the problems that afflicted Italy and Rome at that time was one of special importance both in the civil and ecclesial spheres: the Lombard question. The Pope dedicated every possible energy to it in view of a truly peaceful solution. Contrary to the Byzantine Emperor who assumed that the Lombards were only uncouth individuals and predators to be defeated or exterminated, St Gregory saw this people with the eyes of a good pastor, and was concerned with proclaiming the word of salvation to them, establishing fraternal relationships with them in view of a future peace founded on mutual respect and peaceful coexistence between Italians, Imperials and Lombards. He was concerned with the conversion of the young people and the new civil structure of Europe: the Visigoths of Spain, the Franks, the Saxons, the immigrants in Britain and the Lombards, were the privileged recipients of his evangelising mission. Yesterday we celebrated the liturgical memorial of St Augustine of Canterbury, the leader of a group of monks Gregory assigned to go to Britain to evangelise England.

The Pope - who was a true peacemaker - deeply committed himself to establish an effective peace in Rome and in Italy by undertaking intense negotiations with Agilulf, the Lombard King. This negotiation led to a period of truce that lasted for about three years (598-601), after which, in 603, it was possible to stipulate a more stable armistice. This positive result was obtained also thanks to the parallel contacts that, meanwhile, the Pope undertook with Queen Theodolinda, a Bavarian princess who, unlike the leaders of other Germanic peoples, was Catholic deeply Catholic. A series of Letters of Pope Gregory to this Queen has been preserved in which he reveals his respect and friendship for her. Theodolinda, little by little was able to guide the King to Catholicism, thus preparing the way to peace. The Pope also was careful to send her relics for the Basilica of St John the Baptist which she had had built in Monza, and did not fail to send his congratulations and precious gifts for the same Cathedral of Monza on the occasion of the birth and baptism of her son, Adaloald. The series of events concerning this Queen constitutes a beautiful testimony to the importance of women in the history of the Church. Gregory constantly focused on three basic objectives: to limit the Lombard expansion in Italy; to preserve Queen Theodolinda from the influence of schismatics and to strengthen the Catholic faith; and to mediate between the Lombards and the Byzantines in view of an accord that guaranteed peace in the peninsula and at the same time permitted the evangelisation of the Lombards themselves. Therefore, in the complex situation his scope was constantly twofold: to promote understanding on the diplomatic-political level and to spread the proclamation of the true faith among the peoples.

Along with his purely spiritual and pastoral action, Pope Gregory also became an active protagonist in multifaceted social activities. With the revenues from the Roman See's substantial patrimony in Italy, especially in Sicily, he bought and distributed grain, assisted those in need, helped priests, monks and nuns who lived in poverty, paid the ransom for citizens held captive by the Lombards and purchased armistices and truces. Moreover, whether in Rome or other parts of Italy, he carefully carried out the administrative reorganization, giving precise instructions so that the goods of the Church, useful for her sustenance and evangelising work in the world, were managed with absolute rectitude and according to the rules of justice and mercy. He demanded that the tenants on Church territory be protected from dishonest agents and, in cases of fraud, were to be quickly compensated, so that the face of the Bride of Christ was not soiled with dishonest profits.

Gregory carried out this intense activity notwithstanding his poor health, which often forced him to remain in bed for days on end. The fasts practised during the years of monastic life had caused him serious digestive problems. Furthermore, his voice was so feeble that he was often obliged to entrust the reading of his homilies to the deacon, so that the faithful present in the Roman Basilicas could hear him. On feast days he did his best to celebrate the Missarum sollemnia, that is the solemn Mass, and then he met personally with the people of God, who were very fond of him, because they saw in him the authoritative reference from whom to draw security: not by chance was the title consul Dei quickly attributed to him. Notwithstanding the very difficult conditions in which he had to work, he gained the faithful's trust, thanks to his holiness of life and rich humanity, achieving truly magnificent results for his time and for the future. He was a man immersed in God: his desire for God was always alive in the depths of his soul and precisely because of this he was always close to his neighbour, to the needy people of his time. Indeed, during a desperate period of havoc, he was able to create peace and give hope. This man of God shows us the true sources of peace, from which true hope comes. Thus, he becomes a guide also for us today.

[Continuing with the second discourse.]

Today, at our Wednesday appointment, I return to the extraordinary figure of Pope Gregory the Great to receive some additional light from his rich teaching. Notwithstanding the many duties connected to his office as the Bishop of Rome, he left to us numerous works, from which the Church in successive centuries has drawn with both hands. Besides the important correspondence - in last week's catechesis I cited the Register that contains over 800 letters - first of all he left us writings of an exegetical character, among which his Morals, a commentary on Job (known under the Latin title Moralia in Iob), the Homilies on Ezekiel and the Homilies on the Gospel stand out. Then there is an important work of a hagiographical character, the Dialogues, written by Gregory for the edification of the Lombard Queen Theodolinda. The primary and best known work is undoubtedly the Regula pastoralis (Pastoral Rule), which the Pope published at the beginning of his Pontificate with clearly programmatic goals.

Wanting to review these works quickly, we must first of all note that, in his writings, Gregory never sought to delineate "his own" doctrine, his own originality. Rather, he intended to echo the traditional teaching of the Church, he simply wanted to be the mouthpiece of Christ and of the Church on the way that must be taken to reach God. His exegetical commentaries are models of this approach. 
He was a passionate reader of the Bible, which he approached not simply with a speculative purpose: from Sacred Scripture, he thought, the Christian must draw not theoretical understanding so much as the daily nourishment for his soul, for his life as man in this world. For example, in the Homilies on Ezekiel, he emphasized this function of the sacred text: to approach the Scripture simply to satisfy one's own desire for knowledge means to succumb to the temptation of pride and thus to expose oneself to the risk of sliding into heresy. Intellectual humility is the primary rule for one who searches to penetrate the supernatural realities beginning from the sacred Book. Obviously, humility does not exclude serious study; but to ensure that the results are spiritually beneficial, facilitating true entry into the depth of the text, humility remains indispensable. Only with this interior attitude can one really listen to and eventually perceive the voice of God. On the other hand, when it is a question of the Word of God understanding it means nothing if it does not lead to action. In these Homilies on Ezekiel is also found that beautiful expression according which "the preacher must dip his pen into the blood of his heart; then he can also reach the ear of his neighbour". Reading his homilies, one sees that Gregory truly wrote with his life-blood and, therefore, he still speaks to us today.

Gregory also developed this discourse in the Book of Morals, a Commentary on Job. Following the Patristic tradition, he examined the sacred text in the three dimensions of its meaning: the literal dimension, the allegorical dimension and the moral dimension, which are dimensions of the unique sense of Sacred Scripture. Nevertheless, Gregory gave a clear prevalence to the moral sense. In this perspective, he proposed his thought by way of some dual meanings - to know-to do, to speak-to live, to know-to act - in which he evokes the two aspects of human life that should be complementary, but which often end by being antithetical. The moral ideal, he comments, always consists in realizing a harmonious integration between word and action, thought and deed, prayer and dedication to the duties of one's state: this is the way to realize that synthesis thanks to which the divine descends to man and man is lifted up until he becomes one with God. Thus the great Pope marks out a complete plan of life for the authentic believer; for this reason the Book of Morals, a commentary on Job, would constitute in the course of the Middle Ages a kind of summa of Christian morality.

Of notable importance and beauty are also the Homilies on the Gospel. The first of these was given in St Peter's Basilica in 590 during the Advent Season, hence only a few months after Gregory's election to the Papacy; the last was delivered in St Lawrence's Basilica on the Second Sunday after Pentecost in 593. The Pope preached to the people in the churches where the "stations" were celebrated - special prayer ceremonies during the important seasons of the liturgical year - or the feasts of titular martyrs. The guiding principle, which links the different homilies, is captured in the word "preacher": not only the minister of God, but also every Christian, has the duty "to preach" of what he has experienced in his innermost being, following the example of Christ who was made man to bring to all the good news of salvation. The horizon of this commitment is eschatological: the expectation of the fulfillment of all things in Christ was a constant thought of the great Pontiff and ended by becoming the guiding reason of his every thought and activity. From here sprang his incessant reminders to be vigilant and to perform good works.

Probably the most systematic text of Gregory the Great is the Pastoral Rule, written in the first years of his Pontificate. In it Gregory proposed to treat the figure of the ideal Bishop, the teacher and guide of his flock. To this end he illustrated the seriousness of the office of Pastor of the Church and its inherent duties. Therefore, those who were not called to this office may not seek it with superficiality, instead those who assumed it without due reflection necessarily feel trepidation rise within their soul. Taking up again a favorite theme, he affirmed that the Bishop is above all the "preacher" par excellence; for this reason he must be above all an example for others, so that his behaviour may be a point of reference for all. Efficacious pastoral action requires that he know his audience and adapt his words to the situation of each person: here Gregory paused to illustrate the various categories of the faithful with acute and precise annotations, which can justify the evaluation of those who have also seen in this work a treatise on psychology. From this one understands that he really knew his flock and spoke of all things with the people of his time and his city.

Nevertheless, the great Pontiff insisted on the Pastor's duty to recognize daily his own unworthiness in the eyes of the Supreme Judge, so that pride did not negate the good accomplished. For this the final chapter of the Rule is dedicated to humility: "When one is pleased to have achieved many virtues, it is well to reflect on one's own inadequacies and to humble oneself: instead of considering the good accomplished, it is necessary to consider what was neglected". All these precious indications demonstrate the lofty concept that St Gregory had for the care of souls, which he defined as the "ars artium", the art of arts. The Rule had such great, and the rather rare, good fortune to have been quickly translated into Greek and Anglo-Saxon.

Another significant work is the Dialogues. In this work addressed to his friend Peter, the deacon, who was convinced that customs were so corrupt as to impede the rise of saints as in times past, Gregory demonstrated just the opposite: holiness is always possible, even in difficult times.
He proved it by narrating the life of contemporaries or those who had died recently, who could well be considered saints, even if not canonized. The narration was accompanied by theological and mystical reflections that make the book a singular hagiographical text, capable of enchanting entire generations of readers. The material was drawn from the living traditions of the people and intended to edify and form, attracting the attention of the reader to a series of questions regarding the meaning of miracles, the interpretation of Scripture, the immortality of the soul, the existence of Hell, the representation of the next world - all themes that require fitting clarification. Book II is wholly dedicated to the figure of Benedict of Nursia and is the only ancient witness to the life of the holy monk, whose spiritual beauty the text highlights fully.

In the theological plan that Gregory develops regarding his works, the past, present and future are compared. What counted for him more than anything was the entire arch of salvation history, that continues to unfold in the obscure meanderings of time. In this perspective it is significant that he inserted the news of the conversion of the Angles in the middle of his Book of Morals, a commentary on Job: to his eyes the event constituted a furthering of the Kingdom of God which the Scripture treats. Therefore, it could rightly be mentioned in the commentary on a holy book. According to him the leaders of Christian communities must commit themselves to reread events in the light of the Word of God: in this sense the great Pontiff felt he had the duty to orient pastors and the faithful on the spiritual itinerary of an enlightened and correct lectio divina, placed in the context of one's own life.

Before concluding it is necessary to say a word on the relationship that Pope Gregory nurtured with the Patriarchs of Antioch, of Alexandria and of Constantinople itself. He always concerned himself with recognizing and respecting rights, protecting them from every interference that would limit legitimate autonomy. Still, if St Gregory, in the context of the historical situation, was opposed to the title "ecumenical" on the part of the Patriarch of Constantinople, it was not to limit or negate this legitimate authority but rather because he was concerned about the fraternal unity of the universal Church. Above all he was profoundly convinced that humility should be the fundamental virtue for every Bishop, even more so for the Patriarch. Gregory remained a simple monk in his heart and therefore was decisively contrary to great titles. He wanted to be - and this is his expression - servus servorum Dei. Coined by him, this phrase was not just a pious formula on his lips but a true manifestation of his way of living and acting. He was intimately struck by the humility of God, who in Christ made himself our servant. He washed and washes our dirty feet. Therefore, he was convinced that a Bishop, above all, should imitate this humility of God and follow Christ in this way. His desire was to live truly as a monk, in permanent contact with the Word of God, but for love of God he knew how to make himself the servant of all in a time full of tribulation and suffering. He knew how to make himself the "servant of the servants". Precisely because he was this, he is great and also shows us the measure of true greatness.

Thursday, November 30, 2017




One of the things I struggled with going into retirement was how not to let go of my passion for "doing good" for others. 
Yes, I needed a challenge personally, so I chose another part of the world do it, without giving up doing what good I can do at home. My new CATHOLIC SECOND WIND GUILD has certainly turned out to be that challenge. At home, I am energized by being able to help out at the Cathedral of the Assumption again, continue to offer priest retreats and convocations (here, Canada and the Caribbean), visit three nursing homes regularly and continue to write my blog posts. 

One of the things we learned in the seminary is that "if you don't have it, you can't give it." (Nemo dat quod non habet). Doing good, I believe, makes you good, while being good makes you want to do good. I am not finished working on myself. I see myself as a work in progress. I hope to be "working my self-improvement programs" the rest of my life. 

It is so hard these days to see under, around and over all the meanness, nastiness and evil, but one of the things I learned from writing my ENCOURAGING WORD column every week for fifteen years is that you can train yourself to see goodness all around you.  I believe that we see what we look for, so I try my best to look for the best in people and situations.

This is a good structure for any "life examination:"
have I done good, have I been good and have I been able to see good?

Tuesday, November 28, 2017


7101 Brownsboro Road
Louisville, Kentucky


First class to enter St. Thomas Seminary - 1952
I was 8 years old at that time, but only 6 years away from entering St. Thomas Seminary myself.

Opened in 1952 and torn down in 1970, the aerial picture at the very top was taken before the free-standing gym, permanent chapel and an additional top floor was added. I attended that institution from 1958-1964 - four years of high school and two years of college. 

Going to the seminary, and staying, was my own personal decision. I can still remember going through those doors in the picture above for the first time, having very little idea of what I was getting into. I just knew it was something I wanted to do. I was not encouraged to go nor forced to stay. In fact, significant adults in my life discouraged me from going and I was always having to prove myself to be able to stay. 

They had plenty of students in those days, so "weeding guys out" and getting sent home was always a looming possibility. In fact, the head of the seminary called me a "hopeless case" in my sophomore year of high school and was dead-set on sending me home until I cried for another chance.

I would describe my years there as difficult, even painful, but a necessary part of becoming who I am today. I would say, coming from a small country town, I was in "culture shock" for all six of the years I spent there. Like all minor seminaries of its time, it was run like a military academy for teenage boys. I would say that I "survived" it and I never went back, once I left. Oddly enough, I have dreams about it. I dream about going back and seeing it run down with vines growing all over it. In my dreams, I am always seeing possibilities for renovating it and re-opening it! I am sure a psychologist would have a field day figuring that out!

I did not really become comfortable in my own skin as a seminarian until after being at Saint Meinrad Seminary for a couple of years.

Two years away from going to the seminary - 1956.

First year of high school at St. Thomas - 1958. That is the seminary in the background. This photo was taken among the trees in the left side of the seminary in the aerial photo at the top.

First year of college at St. Thomas in the chemistry lab - 1963. Yes, we always wore ties except during "recreation" time.

My second year of college graduation from St. Thomas - 1964


 I survived Saint Thomas Seminary, but Saint Thomas Seminary itself didn't survive! 

It was torn down in 1970 - oddly enough the year I was ordained! 

The property is now a commercial upscale housing development called "The Woods of St. Thomas." There is no trace of the old seminary left. It was all torn down - seminary building, chapel and gym. It may be gone, but it is certainly not forgotten. Some of the guys have fond memories. Me? Very few! 

Sunday, November 26, 2017


When I was in Canada leading the priest convocation in Vancouver, British Columbia, recently, I took a picture of the "Homeless Jesus" sculpture on a park bench in front of the door of Holy Rosary Cathedral.
Notice the holes in his feet. It  makes quite a statement to those going in and coming out of the cathedral for Mass.

As long as you failed to do it for
these least ones, you failed to do
it for me.  
MATTHEW 25     

One of my favorite weekly laughs used to come from “News From The Weird,” a column in that free paper I used to see all over Louisville. It’s called LEO. They always had a few stories that proved “truth is stranger than fiction.” One of their regular themes is the fact that we human beings have a tendency to get our priorities all screwed up. Some time back, for instance, they told of a situation in Washington, DC - a domestic altercation which broke out between John Hardy and his wife. As they scuffled, their pit bull became so agitated that John Hardy pulled out a knife and fatally stabbed the dog to death.  Judge Fredrick Weisberg sentenced Mr. Hardy to three months in prison for assaulting his wife and twenty-four months for assaulting his dog! Talk about your priorities!

In the gospel today, we are presented with an imaginary courtroom scene where the priority of love, active love expressed and realized in deeds of kindness and mercy, is presented as the criteria upon which judgment will be rendered. The only law that counts in that courtroom is the law of unselfish love. The only question asked is “did you offer practical help and assistance to your fellow human beings?” Jesus sits on the judges bench. We are called in, one by one, to stand before him for judgment. When the witnesses are called, the hungry, the thirsty, the naked, the ill and strangers, they will testify to the fact that they know us or to the fact that they have no idea who we are. It will be a biblical version of that old 60's quote that said, “If you were accused of being a Christian, would there be enough evidence to convict you?” In this judgment scene, Jesus is not some vindictive judge. Our own actions, rather the lack of them in this case, will convict us.

There was a movie a few years back where this parable was told in modern images. It was called “Defending Your Life.”  It’s about a man who was killed in a car wreck. After death he was transported to Judgment City to await trial where he would be called to defend his life. At his trial, all the different events of his life are shown to him on a giant TV screen, as well as how he handled them. His defense attorney and his prosecuting attorney take turns helping him with, or challenging, his defense.  The criterion for judgment was “what did you do to help others with all that you were given?”

Throughout this gospel, Jesus has been arguing with the religious authorities over the essence of religion.  They believed that the essence of religion was about celebrating rites and rituals, keeping endless rules and judging who was worthy and who wasn’t in God’s eyes. Jesus insisted, on the other hand, that the essence of religion was about intentionally lifting up the poor, actively respecting the dignity of everyone, and truly trusting the boundless goodness and mercy of God. The message of Jesus throughout this gospel has told us that actions count more than words. Jesus was clear when he said, “It is not those who say, "Lord, Lord," who will enter the kingdom of God, but those who "do the will of my Father.” 

This parable is normally read to promote such things as clothing drives, food pantries for the poor, prison visits and being kind to minorities, immigrants and strangers. All those things are good, but they do not go deep enough. This gospel is a lot more challenging than that. It asks us to address the causes of these conditions. It has to do, not just with handing out charity, but lifting up the poor in a way they can help themselves. Our charity should be looked at as a temporary solution, not a goal in itself. As a workshop that was advertised in The Record said recently, we need to “reinvent” charitable giving. What is really needed is the elimination of the conditions that cause a person to need charity. It has to do with education, affordable housing, access to health care, informed voting, immigration policies, a living wage, peace making, educational opportunities, national budget priorities and so on.  It is about recognizing the systems that produce these problems and committing to their elimination. In my mission work in the islands, I am determined not to make the people down there dependent on my charity, but help organizations who can help them lift themselves out of poverty. 

Over the next several weeks leading up to Christmas, giving to charity will enter its busiest time of the year.  The poor will certainly need that help, but that is not all that our parable is saying, by a long shot. It is much more revolutionary than that. What Jesus is asking for is an elimination of the need to do charity! That is much more complicated, much more demanding and much more serious.

Giving to charity, even though most people I believe do want to do good, is not always about caring for the poor. Sometimes we give to the poor for what it does for us and that is not necessarily bad either. It gives us a feel-good high, it makes us feel less guilty, it will insure that we are noticed and well thought of. I remember one Thanksgiving when I was pastor of this Cathedral. It was before the new dining room for the homeless was built. In those days, all we could do is give out turkey sandwiches and hot coffee. Because so many street people were addicted to alcohol and drugs, we discouraged people from giving them cash. Instead we suggested they give their money to our “street ministry committee” who paid for lodging, bought food and gave out warm clothes as needed, all year long.  That Thanksgiving Day we were giving out sandwiches from the front door of the rectory as usual, when a rich man in a fancy car drove up and got out. He told me he wanted to give everybody in line a silver dollar. It was embarrassing for the people in line. I would rather have taken the bag of silver dollars and bought food for the line next week and have him hand out the sandwiches. He was not mean, I am sure. He just was not thinking as much about the ones he wanted to give the silver dollars to, but how good he would feel when he got back into his car.

Jesus does not condemn wealth. As Margaret Thatcher put it, “Even the Good Samaritan had to have some extra money in his pocket!” It’s about those of us who do have, pulling the "have-nots" up, so that we can all be winners.  The best thing we can do for the poor and hungry and the sick and the imprisoned and the stranger is to help them not need us.      

Why care about the poor, hungry, sick, imprisoned and the stranger?  The parable hits the bulls-eye. It’s because they are Jesus in the flesh! “As long as you did it or failed to do it, you did it or failed to do it, for me!”  What’s the bottom line here? We will stand before Jesus someday and he will have the face of all the poor, sick, hungry, lonely and imprisoned people we failed to notice in our lifetime.  Did we have our priorities straight? Are the priorities of Jesus our priorities? Our own deeds or lack of them will judge us. What we have done may not be as important as what we have not done! That’s scary! 

Someone said to me recently, “There is always somebody these days with their hand out!” It went right through me! Since I am very involved in the Caribbean missions, it irritated me more than quite a bit. After some thought, I finally decided that there are two ways to look at it. (1) There are a lot of lazy beggars out there who want to be carried through life or (2) There are a lot of opportunities out there to prepare oneself to meet Jesus who said, “As long as you failed to do it to one of these least ones, you failed to do it for me!”

Yes, we need to be wise when it comes to charity. I don’t know about you, but I would rather run the risk of being taken advantage of once in a while, than spending the rest of my life taking care of myself, hoarding what I have, because somebody out there might take advantage of me once in a while.  I would much rather be labeled a "sucker" than a"tightwad!"