The Lord Is My Chef Sunday Recipe, Wk. XVIII-C, 31 July 2016
Ecclesiastes 1:2;2:21-23//Colossians 3:1-5,9-11//Luke 12:13-21
Once in a while as a priest, I have experienced some people asking me to tell their husband or wife, children or friend, even parents to correct their behavior like in our Gospel today: Someone in the crowd said to Jesus, “Teacher, tell my brother to share the inheritance with me” (Lk.12:13). Without disregarding our roles as pastors along with the sort of “moral ascendancy” we sometimes have among parishioners as priests, I have always tried to imitate the Lord’s wisdom in His reply, “Friend, who appointed me as your judge and arbitrator?” Then he said to the crowd, “Take care to guard against all greed, for though one may be rich, one’s life does not consist of possessions” (Lk.12:14-15).
Jesus did not snub or belittle the request of that someone in the crowd; the Lord simply wants us all to focus more on our own values and behavior than on others’. Addressing the whole crowd and not just that “someone”, Jesus reminded them including us all today that to fight evils and immoralities around us, we must first be the ones who are morally upright! Look more into one’s self first, examine our priorities in life, our values because a lot often, it seems that the reason why others seem to be so bad toward us is because we ourselves have questionable conduct. When parents, especially mothers, ask me how they could make their children or husband celebrate the Eucharist on Sundays, I simply tell them to show their life of holiness, of patience and silence. For people to be good, to a large extent, we must first be good! You call that as “witnessing.” According to Blessed Pope Paul VI’s Apostolic Exhortation Evangelii Nuntiandi issued in 1975, “modern man listens more willingly to witness than to teachers, and if he does listen to teachers, it is because they are witnesses” (#41). Exactly what St. Paul reminds us in our second reading that the proper way to moral instructions is not to tell people what to do but for us to be always aware of our new life in Christ that we try to live it accordingly: “If you were raised with Christ, seek what is above, where Christ is seated at the right hand of God. Think of what is above, not of what is on earth… Put to death, then, the parts of you that are earthly: immorality, impunity, passion, evil desire, and the greed that is idolatry” (Col.3:1-3,5).
There’s the story of a man who tried changing the world by instructing people how to live accordingly but despite his efforts, he failed miserably. Later in life, he realized that to change the world, he must first change himself. And soon, the world changed indeed. Real change happens in our hearts first, not in somebody else’s, nor in programs nor policies. And for a real change to happen that truly lasts, it must always be rooted in God or else, it becomes temporary that we go back to our old self or even to our previous situation worse than ever.
This Sunday, instead of asking Jesus to tell our brothers or sisters to change their ways, let us examine our very selves. How focused are we with God and His ways, His will and His teachings? Remember when Jesus told Martha the other Sunday that there is “need only of one thing” in life, God? This is the main point of our Gospel today complemented by the first reading from the Book of Ecclesiastes written by Qoheleth: “Vanity of vanities! All things are vanity!” (Eccl.1:2) Nothing is truly of any great worth in this life except God because “one’s life does not consist of possessions” (Lk.12:15). In His parable of the rich man, Christ shows us the misplaced priorities of those who rest their security on material things that when they die, everything goes down the drain that Jesus concluded warning us, “Thus will it be for the one who stores up treasure for themselves but are not rich in what matters to God” (Lk.12:21).
A few weeks ago I was reading the business section when a financial advisor struck me with his question to a letter-sender: would you want to become rich or wealthy? According to the financial advisor, being rich is just “short-term” because one works hard for money to buy things, acquire possession while being wealthy is “long-term” wherein one makes his/her money work for him/her by building assets or investments for a more secured future. Jesus is teaching us the same thing today wherein we are asked to invest more on God than on things! Have a long-term outlook in life, extending even to eternity as St. Paul reminded us in the second reading to “Think of what is above, not of what is on earth” (Col.3:2). Yes, we need money, clothing, food and shelter in life but how much do we really need of these? When I was buying my first car two years ago, everybody was telling me to get the higher end model with all its trimmings; but, even if I had the money, I simply needed a reliable vehicle that would transport me safely and economically that I bought the basic model. Last week I checked on some smartphones because I need one for my social communications ministry; but, when I saw the prices ranging from Php 30,000-Php 50,000, I decided to just activate the internet services of the unit given to me by my phone company two years ago.
Our gospel today challenges us to evaluate our possessions as well as our priorities and pursuits in life, including our relationships and value systems. It is about time, like the rich man in the parable, to take inventory of whatever we have in life to make room for a “bigger barn” for “what matters to God.” Today’s responsorial psalm is so beautiful that we always hear in Advent and Lent, “If today you hear his voice, harden not your hearts.” Let us not harden our hearts to heed God’s voice because He knows what’s best for us, what’s most essential in this life and most especially, in eternal life. How ironic that with God, we are the ones with whom He is always focused with, with what’s best for us not only here but even in eternal life. Should we not also focus on Him more often? What is God telling me with the things and persons I value and possess? A blessed week ahead!
Fr. Nicanor F. Lalog II
Parokya ni San Juan Apostol at Ebanghelista,
Gov. F. Halili Ave., Bagbaguin, Sta. Maria, Bulacan.
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