July 21st – And then ?

Born in Florence in 1515, Philip Neri founded an order known as The Congregation of Oratory. It was designed to deepen and improve the personal lives of the clergy. It had immense spiritual influence in Rome. Here is a story recorded which is really a conversation between St. Philip and a young student of the University, who was greatly gifted but eaten up with ambition. St. Philip asked him about his proposed career:
“I am studying Philosophy and will graduate next year”. “And then?” asked Philip.
“I shall study the full cause of Canon and Civil Law, and take my cap as Doctor”. “And then?” asked Philip.
“Then I shall practise as an Advocate and make for myself a reputation.” “And then?” asked the saint again.
“Then I shall marry and succeed to the estates of my family, and become an auditor of the Rota and rise even higher.” “And then?” asked Philip.
“Well then I suppose I shall have achieved satisfaction with my position and be respected by all my fellow citizens.” “And then?”.
“Well, like everybody else, shall grow old and die.” “And then?” St. Philip asked.
For the first time the confident young man hesitated, his lips quivered, and he fell down at Philip’s feet in tears. His dream of glory and wealth were shown in their true light by a Christian man’s two simple words “And then?”.
The story continued that the student changed his plans and his legal studies and humbly sought training for a life devoted to serving others rather than his self-centred ambition. But whether he changed or not, the two words are always the acid test of our best laid plans. Put the two words to your plans today, and as you do, listen to Paul’s great hymn to Christ in Philippians Chapter 2: (Philippians 2:5-9)
Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus: Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness.
And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself and became obedient to death, even death on a cross! Therefore God exalted him to the highest place and gave him the name that is above every name.
A Prayer:
With every knee and every tongue I bow and confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, and I rejoice in this confession.
Now read Philippians 2: 1-18.

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The Kingdom of God is not for the well meaning, but for the desperate. (James Denney)

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