Today’s Inspirational Snippet: Failure does not mean that there’s no hope of success.

Good News Reflection
Thursday of the 17th Week of Ordinary Time
July 31, 2014

Today’s Memorial: Saint Ignatius of Loyola
Pray for wisdom when selecting reading material:

Today’s Readings:
Jeremiah 18:1-6
Psalm 146:1b-6ab
Matthew 13:47-53
USCCB Podcast of the Readings:

Are you soft clay in God’s hands?

What in your life has turned out badly? Think of something that started out well – it looked very promising for a while – but it ended in failure. God says in today’s first reading that this is only clay. He can reshape it into something beautiful and useful. It’s not disastrous.Our sins and failures and bad endings are tossed away like the junk that was collected in the dragnet of today’s Gospel reading. The impurities in our clay have contributed to the warping of our spirits and the distortions or our perceptions, but if we ask God to purify us, the impurities are pulled out by his careful fingers, no faster than we can handle it, and he throws them aside.

And if our new pot still turns out misshapen, God refines us to a greater degree. If you’ve been feeling like you’re under fire, it’s probably the fires of purification. Believe it or not, you’re becoming holier. As long as you want to become a beautiful vessel of God’s love, the heat of your trials is not destroying you; it’s purifying you.

We can help God form a wonderful, new pot by giving him no resistance. Our shape is perfected more easily if we let him spin us on his potter’s wheel instead of being hard and firm in wanting to decide how and when our lives should change.

Furthermore, as we apply this to what Jesus said about the Godly scribe, we discover that the best pot is produced when we let him combine our old material with new clay and fresh water and his own coloring dyes and whatever else he wants to add into it.

God never lets anything go to waste. Many years ago, I thought I’d messed up God’s plans for my life by taking a job that was not totally in keeping with his values. I quit after my conscience bothered me for several months, and I regretted that I had misspent so much time. However, God later gave me the opportunity to use the skills I had learned in doing that job, now using them for the work of his kingdom. In fact, as I let him shape my application of these skills, their usefulness for his plans has continued to increase over the years.

When we allow God to make us anew according to his desires, trusting in his expert shaping skills, giving him everything we’ve done in the past – the good and the bad – and when we invite him to add into our lives whatever he chooses, everything that had previously been a failure becomes a lovely earthen vessel that holds many treasures.

You’ll know it’s happened when what’s inside your pot blesses others. God does not reshape us only for our own benefit. As he works with our clay, he’s thinking of how he can build a pot that will benefit the whole Church as well as the world in which we live. We are that important! Being pliable clay in God’s hands is that valuable!1
© 2014 by Terry A. Modica; All Rights Reserved.
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(updated weekly)

In this issue of Insider’s View:
•Two stories of my Panama missionary trip
•Two short videos from the trip

Our missionary adventures in Panama

Panama villagers

Terry ModicaStory #1: Out of My Comfort Zone and into the Awesomeness of God

One model for enjoying life is to find something that you’re good at and that’s easy and straightforward, and do it to the best of your ability. Another model is to seek out things that are insanely difficult and do those instead; this is where following Christ becomes an adventure and we make a bigger difference in this world.

A week ago, Dani (GNM’s Digital Media Assistant) and I returned from a missionary trip where we visited several small, poor villages in the mountains of Panama. Our parish (St. Stephen in Valrico, Florida) has partnered with Holy Trinity (Santísima Trinidad) Parish in Colobre to assist with the construction of homes (moving people from wooden huts into concrete block houses), dental and medical needs, and evangelization.

Panama Villager

This July was my parish’s 12th trip and my first. One reason why I finally decided to go is because it was out of my comfort zone. Way out! It seemed insanely difficult for me. I understand very little Spanish. I’d be going to a foreign country that was completely unfamiliar. I’d be giving up the comforts of air conditioning, familiar foods, refreshingly cold ice for my beverages, a good bed, and (as it turned out) a predictable plan.

During our pre-trip planning meetings, our team of six had prayerfully decided to teach how the mysteries of the Rosary apply to our own lives. This is the topic that the Blessed Mother had inspired me to use in retreats I’ve given over the past few years (you can download and listen to it from my trip to New Zealand). The Panama team liked the concept. When we proposed it to Father Narciso (pastor of Santísima Trinidad), he liked the idea, too.

We thought he would gather the people of each village where he wanted us to visit and give an introduction about the Rosary. Then team members would then take turns sharing stories from our lives about how we have lived the mysteries. Each of us prepared two mysteries.

Surprise! Once there we found ourselves being immediately split into three groups, going two-by-two, house to house, giving the introduction ourselves and sharing more than two mysteries. I have never been comfortable with door-to-door evangelization, but now I was thrust into it and couldn’t even speak the language! We had to adapt and completely rely on the Holy Spirit to tailor what we shared according to the conversations we had with each person, one-on-one. It was awesome!

My partner, Marta, translated for me. She was out of her comfort zone, too. Although fluent in Spanish as a native Puerto Rican, she didn’t think she could speak well as an evangelizer. However, what makes following Christ into the mission field very wonderful is experiencing the grace of God enabling us to do what we would have said “no” to if we had known ahead of time what would be required of us.

God does far more through us and in us and for us when we step out of our comfort zones to do the mission of Christ. What is he inviting you to do that seems insanely difficult? There is nothing more satisfying and exhilarating than to discover what our awesome God can accomplish through us despite all our shortcomings and reasons why we want to say "no".

Story #2: Father Narciso’s Prayer

Father Narciso

Father Narciso serves 14,000 Catholics who are spread throughout a very large, mountainous region. He travels by pickup truck, sometimes by horse, often over steep, dirt roads to reach all the villages. With so many places to visit, villagers only get to celebrate Mass with him once a month or less in their small mission churches (capillas). His days are long and difficult, but his spirit is joyful and tireless. He has only one assistant priest to help with the huge needs of his extended parish.

This humble, servant-priest lives in and works from a rectory that is literally falling apart. He is also raising an orphan boy there.

Before the team and I left for Panama, we and past team members held fund-raiser car washes, raising more than $3,000 for a construction project that Father Narciso had requested to help a man who’s suffering from renal failure. When I wrote about that in the July 5th edition of Insider’s View, one of my readers felt moved by the Holy Spirit to match that amount; Paul from Singapore donated another $3,000!

While in Panama, I asked Father Narciso what would be the best use of Paul’s gift. His eyes widened in amazement when he learned that a stranger in Singapore cared so much. He then showed me around his rectory and asked that it be used for repairs. He needs a private office so he can counsel people. He works at a desk that sits in a storage area. The kitchen is in shambles, gutted (see photo below). Windows have missing panes of glass. The refrigerator is broken. The shower doesn’t work and has missing tiles and a mal-functioning toilet. Ceiling tiles need to be replaced. Doors need to be renovated or replaced. (See more photos on GNM’s website.)

Fr. Narciso's kitchen
Father Narciso’s kitchen is not usable.

Last year, a generous benefactor had provided Father Narciso with a bus for transporting villagers to Mass, because many have no other way to get to church. However, there are no funds for maintenance, and the bus has been stuck in his yard unable to move without repairs.

I asked Father Narciso how much it would cost to get everything in the rectory and the bus fixed. He estimated it to be $10,000. Our $3,000 is greatly appreciated and will fix the bus and handle a few of the rectory repairs. If any of my readers feel inspired by the Holy Spirit to join Paul from Singapore in helping Father Narciso do the Lord’s work, 100% of these donations will be given to Father Narciso for his desperately-needed repairs. For more pictures of his rectory and to make a donation to this cause, click here.

Fun Video: "Dog Teaches Cat to Play Nice with Baby Chick"

Dog, cat, and chick play together

While in Panama, I was entertained by my host mother’s dog and kitten play with a baby chick that had been abandoned by it’s mother. The dog adopted the chick and made sure the cat didn’t hurt it. But as you watch this video, you’ll be amazed, like I was, that their playfulness didn’t harm the chick, which seemed to enjoy the attention.

Jesus said, "Love your enemies." I think he also meant that love makes all things possible, including having fun together, as witnessed in this video.

Teaching in Panama: Jesus Cares

Terry teaching in Panama

Here’s the video of the short 7-minute presentation that I gave to the villagers of San Jose mission parish high up in the mountains — in English with Spanish translation. First, I told the story of a miracle that Saint Joseph provided for my family, and then I explained how much Jesus cares about us, using Matthew 12:1-8 and Isaiah 38:6.

I’m praying for you:

Thank you for reading this newsletter. Every morning, I lift up in prayer all those who help Good News Ministries in any way (donors, volunteers, prayer supporters, etc.) and all the prayer requests posted on our site.

Your servant in Christ,
Terry Modica
Executive Director
Good News Ministries

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