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Preparing for the Future
By Diane M. Houdek
Source: Bringing Home the Word
Published: Sunday, August 11, 2013
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Someone once said, “If you want to hear God laugh, make plans.” In these days of hyper-scheduling, we often discover the truth of this as we’re waiting for a car repair, dealing with a sudden virus that hits on the day of an important meeting, or watching the rain wash away a long-awaited sports event. The things we do sometimes can seem like the most important things in the world. We can lose perspective so easily. We forget that who we are is not determined by what we do.

We need to look at the activities we spend our time on and ask not necessarily whether these produce something useful but whether they transform our souls and bring us into a closer relationship with God and with those we love.

The next time you find yourself stuck somewhere that you hadn’t expected, forget your other plans and ask God to let you know what you might take away from the unexpected situation instead. You might be surprised by a result you never imagined, an opportunity you couldn’t have created on your own.

The Gospel readings this month spend a great deal of time talking about how we spend our money. In today’s passage, Jesus tells his listeners, “Provide money bags for yourselves that do not wear out.” He wasn’t talking about steel-reinforced, fireproof, waterproof safes. He was telling them that there’s more to this world than this world.

In our capitalist culture, worth is inevitably determined in economic terms. We can get a pretty good idea about what’s important to people by looking at how they spend their money. We think that savings accounts and 401k accounts and maximized investments will keep us safe and secure in an unknown future. But as many a preacher has pointed out, we can’t take that money with us to the grave.

The Scriptures remind us that we can’t predict the future, and being ready for it doesn’t mean storing up supplies against the Coming Zombie Apocalypse. Rather, we need to trust that God will lead us where we need to go and walk with us on the journey.

The passage from the Letter to the Hebrews tells us: “By faith Abraham obeyed when he was called to go out to a place that he was to receive as an inheritance; he went out, not knowing where he was to go.” Abraham is held up as the supreme example of faith by the New Testament writers. He was willing to travel great distances geographically and take great psychological risks based only on the word of God. And in fact, his and Sarah’s attempts to plan and schedule the working out of God’s promise always led to disaster. We can learn much from our great father in the faith about the promises God has made to us for the working out of our lives.

The Scriptures tell us the big stories of salvation: the covenant with Abraham; the exodus; the passion, death, and resurrection of Jesus. But Luke’s Gospel also reminds us that in the little things of life, we discover that God graciously gives us the kingdom of heaven.

We need to be open to making room for that gift in our lives. In small things, no less than in the great lifechanging events, we can discover where our treasure lies.

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Andrew Dung-Lac and Companions: Andrew Dung-Lac was one of 117 people martyred in Vietnam between 1820 and 1862. Members of this group were beatified on four different occasions between 1900 and 1951. All were canonized by St. John Paul II. 
<p>Christianity came to Vietnam (then three separate kingdoms) through the Portuguese. Jesuits opened the first permanent mission at Da Nang in 1615. They ministered to Japanese Catholics who had been driven from Japan. </p><p>The king of one of the kingdoms banned all foreign missionaries and tried to make all Vietnamese deny their faith by trampling on a crucifix. Like the priest-holes in Ireland during English persecution, many hiding places were offered in homes of the faithful. </p><p>Severe persecutions were again launched three times in the 19th century. During the six decades after 1820, between 100,000 and 300,000 Catholics were killed or subjected to great hardship. Foreign missionaries martyred in the first wave included priests of the Paris Mission Society, and Spanish Dominican priests and tertiaries. </p><p>Persecution broke out again in 1847 when the emperor suspected foreign missionaries and Vietnamese Christians of sympathizing with a rebellion led by of one of his sons. </p><p>The last of the martyrs were 17 laypersons, one of them a 9-year-old, executed in 1862. That year a treaty with France guaranteed religious freedom to Catholics, but it did not stop all persecution. </p><p>By 1954 there were over a million and a half Catholics—about seven percent of the population—in the north. Buddhists represented about 60 percent. Persistent persecution forced some 670,000 Catholics to abandon lands, homes and possessions and flee to the south. In 1964, there were still 833,000 Catholics in the north, but many were in prison. In the south, Catholics were enjoying the first decade of religious freedom in centuries, their numbers swelled by refugees. </p><p>During the Vietnamese war, Catholics again suffered in the north, and again moved to the south in great numbers. Now the whole country is under Communist rule.</p> American Catholic Blog I discovered that my sins had created a spiritual racket that drowned out the gentle whispers of God to my soul; God had never actually abandoned me, but I needed repentance and sacramental grace to reawaken all that was good and beautiful in me.

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