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Seventh Sunday

Years ago, one Saturday morning, my mother asked me to go shopping with her. In the car she said, “What is the matter?” I told her, “Nothing.” She responded, “You used to be so happy around the house, always helping me out with the chores and having fun with your brothers. Now you are withdrawn and quiet. We want the old Peter back” I leveled with her and told her that my friend in school betrayed me and embarrassed me in front of all my other friends. She said, “Do you know what your friend is doing now? He is probably at the mall eating pizza and having a good time, while you’re here being miserable.” Then she gave me this advice. “Peter, don’t let anyone rob you of your good stuff, because your good stuff has a big impact wherever go.” She was right. A slap in the face is just a slap in the face. I didn’t have to go the Emergency Room, surgery or for treatments. A slap in the face is just a slap in the face.

One night someone broke into the church to steal the candle money. I am not sure how he got in because this place is built like a fortress. Unfortunately for the guy, we just cleared the collection tubes that evening. Also unfortunate for the bandit was that he cut himself and left his DNA on the floor. They got the guy. I asked one of the detectives, “What should I do if I ever run into this guy? He told me, “First, be nice to him. Then tell him he is on private property and he needs to leave. Once he’s gone, give us a call and tell us what direction he is going.” I said, “Shouldn’t I try to keep him there until the police arrive?” He said, “No, just get him out of the house.” He explained, “Here is the principle we want you to remember: no one gets hurt. We don’t want you to get hurt and we don’t want him to get hurt. That is the most important thing; we can worry about getting the guy later.”

I think that is a good policy to remember. Anger can be a gift from God. Anger is not like “sad.” Sad wants to sit in the lazy-boy and eat ice cream. Anger gives you energy to get off the lazy-boy and fix the problem. So here is the policy when you are angry, when you jump off the lazy-boy: “No one gets hurt.” Say, “I am not going to lose my best friend over this; I am not going to lose my good stuff over this.”

In the ancient world, the Roman soldier had the right to request the help of civilians. The Jewish people hated this “right” because the soldiers often abused it. This is what I think happened. One day a centurion was carrying his bag of gear when he walked by Jesus who was addressing a huge crowd. He must have seen the crowd around Jesus and thought, “Who does this hotshot think he is? I’ll fix his wagon.” So the centurion said, “You, the one doing the talking, get over here and shoulder this bag. You are helping me today. So Jesus went over and carried the centurion’s bag. They walked together for two miles. During the walk, Jesus talked to the centurion and you know what happens when Jesus starts talking: people listen. The centurion learned a bit about him and the Kingdom of God. At the end of the job, when they parted ways, that centurion was a different man. He was no longer three same. I made up that story. It is not in the Gospels or the history books. What is in the Gospels is a centurion knew Jesus could help his servant and sought Him out. How is it possible that a centurion would know who Jesus was? He is too involved with the affairs of the empire and running a hundred soldiers. There is one way…I have a theory. Jesus tells the crowd that the centurion has more faith than all of Israel. How did the centurion get so much faith, to get Jesus to say, “No man of all of Israel has greater faith.”? How did the centurion get so much faith? Did it fall on him from out of the sky; did he just get lucky that day? Who gave the centurion all that faith? I have my theory.

A slap in the face can ruin your day. Someone taking your favorite shirt or robbing you of a precious hour of your time can ruin your day. Don’t let the small stuff rob you of your goodness. Remember, use anger to fix the problems of your life with the caveat: “No one gets hurt.”

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