Friday 1 August 2014

27th Sunday in Ordinary Time Year A

As we journey through life, we begin to accumulate a lot of things. Some of us accumulate wealth, property and riches. Some of us accumulate friends and acquaintances. Some of us get married and have children. Some of us accumulate educational and dignitary titles and honours. Some accumulate all sorts of odds and ends which we may not use or need. When we accumulate these things or people, some of us begin to think that we own them. We think that we are entitled to have power and authority over them. We begin to control, manipulate, or jealousy cling on to them, thinking that no one else but we can have them. We become quite possessive towards them.

But do we really own these things and people? Are these things and people our sole property, to be used and possibly abused as we see fit? No. We do not own these things and people, simply because these things and people are only temporary. The tenants in today's Gospel thought that the vineyard belonged to them and they attempted to completely take over the vineyard from the owner by beating up the owner’s servants and ultimately by killing his son. But what the tenants failed to realise is that the vineyard is not theirs, they were merely staying there for a time, and one day they would need to move on.

When we think we possess or own something, or when we think that the thing or person is only for us, we may actually be hurting others in our desire to hold on tightly. For example, some of us have children. Our children are God's gifts and they were given to us "on loan" or "on trust" so that we could learn to care, feed, love and share our faith with them. There will come a time we would need to let go, and let them fly away so that they could live independent and fruitful lives. But when we are so possessive towards our children, we become a stumbling block towards their growth, freedom and happiness. We begin to interfere with almost every aspect of their lives, only to make matters worse and create unnecessary anger, resentment, tension and hurt.

In the same way, when we become possessive towards our husband or wife, we are actually hurting them. We begin to get suspicious of our husband or wife, even for the smallest reason such as having friends. Is it wrong for your husband or wife to have friends? Just because he or she occasionally goes out for a bite or to watch a movie (especially with their friends of the same gender) does not mean he or she is being unfaithful or will leave you. We need to learn to trust and not be so possessive, suspicious or jealous, because we only create further resentment or tension if we behave this way. It is unfortunate that some men resort to violence to control their wives and prevent them from living a decent life. In the same way, it is equally unfortunate that some women begin to get extremely jealous, cautious, suspicious and possessive towards their husbands, to the extend of nagging, throwing tantrums, or even hen-pecking them for the slightest issue.

At church, some of us think that without us, the church would collapse or fall apart, or a particular church ministry would go bust. What we forget is that the church or church ministry does not belong to us. We should remember that we are merely servants and we should treat involvement in church and church ministry as a temporary thing. We should make effort to train and encourage others, especially the younger generation, so that one day they will be able to replace us and continue working for the Lord. It is when we refuse to let go, when we stubbornly insist in holding on to a particular ministry or office, we could be actually stifling the growth of the church. By doing so, we could be building our own kingdom, instead of God's Kingdom.

Ultimately, we need to remember that we are all pilgrims here on earth. Our time on earth is short, and instead of bickering or being possessive towards something or someone, we should be humble and willing to be detached, to let go, to love just as God loves us. We should be reminded, as St. Paul advises us in the second reading: "There is no need to worry; but if there is anything you need, pray for it, asking God for it with prayer and thanksgiving, and that peace of God, which is so much greater than we can understand, will guard your hearts and your thoughts, in Christ Jesus. Finally, brothers, fill your minds with everything that is true, everything that is noble, everything that is good and pure, everything that we love and honour, and everything that can be thought virtuous or worthy of praise." Let us use our time here on earth wisely to give glory to God in all we do, and be genuine, respectful, loving, forgiving and caring towards all.

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