What kills man? Bad habits kill man. The master was once taking a walk though a forest with a disciple by his side. The old man suddenly stopped and pointed to four plants close by his side. The first was just beginning to grow above the ground, the second had rooted itself well into the earth, and the third was a small shrub, while the fourth was a full-sized tree.
The master said to his disciple, “Pull up the first!” The disciple easily pulled it up with his fingers. “Now pull up the second.” He obeyed, but the task became somewhat more difficult. “Now the third.” The disciple did manage but he had to use all his strength to displace it. “And now,” said the master, “try your hand at the fourth.” It was just impossible!
“This, my son, is what happens with our bad habits. When they are young, we can cast them out quite easily; but when they are old, it is very hard to uproot them.” Be smart! Do not let bad habits take hold of you!
What kills man? Presumption kills man. A rich man interviewed three guys because he wanted to hire a chauffeur. He pointed to a high cliff near his house and said, “Suppose you were driving me on the edge of that cliff, how close could you safely come?” One said, “I could easily drive the car within six inches of the cliff and not think anything about it!” Another man said, “I certainly could come within a foot without you having to worry at all.” Finally, the third man applying for the job spoke up, “I wouldn’t go anywhere near the edge of that cliff; I would stay at least six feet from the edge.” It was the third man who was hired for the job. Arrogance is so stupid… Avoid it.
What kills man? Bad example kills man. When he was six years old, John was with his father when he was stopped for speeding. His father slipped the officer a twenty dollar bill with his license. “It’s O.K, son. Everyone does it”
When John was nine years old he went shopping with his mother. The cashier accidentally gave her too much change. As she slipped the extra money in her purse, she whispered to her son, “Everyone does it.” When John was sixteen he landed his first summer employment at the supermarket. One of his jobs was to put the overripe tomatoes at the bottom of the basket and the greener ones on the top. The boss told him, “It’s good business.”
When John was eighteen years old he went to college. One day he was approached by another student and asked if he wanted to buy some test answers. He did and was subsequently caught cheating and was sent home. His parents were very disappointed, “Who taught you to be so dishonest, son?” Incredible blindness.
What kills a man? Complaining kills a man. In this monastery they observed a strict rule of silence. Each monk was allowed to say only two words every five years, and those would be to the abbot. After his first five years of silence, one monk said, “Food cold.” At the end of five more years he said, “Bed hard.” At the end of his fifteenth year in the monastery, he said, “I quit!” “I’m not surprised,” answered the abbot. “Since you got here, all you’ve done is complaining!”
All these kill us. But what saves us? A man like no other saves us! There was a soldier who was on duty in a very remote area. He wrote to his wife telling her of his seven new friends with whom he had developed a close friendship. “I am so grateful,” he said, “because in this isolated and barren terrain, a person could easily be driven to depression.”
When his next birthday came about, there was a huge parcel in the mail. When he opened it, he discovered not one but eight gifts. One for him, and one for each of his seven friends. The soldier looked at the eight presents and, with tears rolling down his cheeks, exclaimed, “That’s my wife for you! Yes sir, that’s my wife!”
As I look at the man on the cross and recall the whole story of pain, betrayal and eventual resurrection, I cannot but exclaim “That’s my God for you! Yes, that’s what my God is like!”
(c) Fr. Pius Sammut, OCD. Permission is hereby granted for any non-commercial use, provided that the content is unaltered from its original state, if this copyright notice is included.