Sunday, August 4, 2013

Gospel Reflection

August 04, 2013
Sunday – Year of Faith – Ordinary Time
by Rev. Fr. Stephen Mifsud (Mission Society of St. Paul  – Quezon City)
MSSP House Chapel / Mass for the poor)

Reading 1 Ecc 1:2; 2:21-23

Vanity of vanities, says Qoheleth, vanity of vanities! All things are vanity!

Here is one who has labored with wisdom and knowledge and skill, and yet to another who has not labored over it, he must leave property.  This also is vanity and a great misfortune.  For what profit comes to man from all the toil and anxiety of heart with which he has labored under the sun?  All his days sorrow and grief are his occupation; even at night his mind is not at rest.  This also is vanity.


Responsorial Psalm Ps 90:3-4, 5-6, 12-13, 14, 17

R. (1) If today you hear his voice, harden not your hearts.
You turn man back to dust,
saying, “Return, O children of men.”
For a thousand years in your sight
are as yesterday, now that it is past,
or as a watch of the night.
R. If today you hear his voice, harden not your hearts.
You make an end of them in their sleep;
the next morning they are like the changing grass,
Which at dawn springs up anew,
but by evening wilts and fades.
R. If today you hear his voice, harden not your hearts.
Teach us to number our days aright,
that we may gain wisdom of heart.
Return, O LORD! How long?
Have pity on your servants!
R. If today you hear his voice, harden not your hearts.
Fill us at daybreak with your kindness,
that we may shout for joy and gladness all our days.
And may the gracious care of the LORD our God be ours;
prosper the work of our hands for us!
Prosper the work of our hands!
R. If today you hear his voice, harden not your hearts.


Reading 2 Col 3:1-5, 9-11

Brothers and sisters: 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.  For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God.  When Christ your life appears, then you too will appear with him in glory.

Put to death, then, the parts of you that are earthly: immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire, and the greed that is idolatry.  Stop lying to one another, since you have taken off the old self with its practices and have put on the new self, which is being renewed, for knowledge, in the image of its creator.  Here there is not Greek and Jew, circumcision and uncircumcision, barbarian, Scythian, slave, free; but Christ is all and in all.


Gospel Lk 12:13-21

Someone in the crowd said to Jesus, “Teacher, tell my brother to share the inheritance with me.”  He replied to him, “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.”

Then he told them a parable.  “There was a rich man whose land produced a bountiful harvest.  He asked himself, ‘What shall I do,
for I do not have space to store my harvest?’ And he said, ‘This is what I shall do: I shall tear down my barns and build larger ones.  There I shall store all my grain and other goods and I shall say to myself, “Now as for you, you have so many good things stored up for many years, rest, eat, drink, be merry!”’ But God said to him, ‘You fool, this night your life will be demanded of you; and the things you have prepared, to whom will they belong?’ Thus will it be for all who store up treasure for themselves but are not rich in what matters to God.”


I wish to start my reflection with a story written by Leo Tolstoy.  The protagonist of the story is a 60 year old peasant named Pakhom, whose wife was always complaining that they do not own enough land to satisfy them. This Pakhom, a short time later, managed to buy a good piece of land, by working off the extra land is able to repay his debts and live a more comfortable life.

However, Pakhóm became very possessive of his land, and this causes arguments with his neighbors. So he moves to a larger area of land at another place. Here, he can grow even more crops and amass a small fortune, but he has to grow the crops on rented land, which irritates him. Finally he is introduced to the Bashkirs, and is told that they are simple-minded people who own a huge amount of land. Pakhóm goes to them to take as much of their land for as low a price as he can negotiate. Their offer is very unusual: for a sum of Peso 1700, Pakhóm can walk around as large an area as he wants, starting at daybreak, marking his route with a spade along the way. If he reaches his starting point by sunset that day, the entire area of land his route encloses will be his, but if he does not reach his starting point he will lose his money and receive no land. So the next day he went and started to mark his land... the further he went the better the soil seemed to be.  At one point he realized that the sun was setting already and starting running back as fast as he could to the waiting Bashkirs. He finally arrives at the starting point just as the sun sets. The Bashkirs cheered his good fortune, but exhausted from the run, Pakhóm drops dead. His servant buries him in an ordinary grave only six feet long.

It seems ridiculous… but it happens so much… People are not happy with what they have and continue to try to have more and more and more… and this can fool anyone … not only rich but also the poor… you think that the more you have, the happier you will be.  Mali, hindi totoo yan.  

You know how many cars Elvis Presley had: 8 cars , and also 6 motorcycles, 2 airplanes, 16 TV, huge mansion, thick bank accounts... do you know how he died? Drug abuse!

  • My question is: with all the possessions he had, was he happy in his life?   He had everything except peace and happiness.
  • Did he take anything with him?

When people who have acquired so much money and richness, die, they take nothing with them, and what normally they leave is children fighting for their inheritance.  Another example… a person studies so much to become a professional, for example a lawyer that he has no time to socialize… and will become a very good but strange lonely lawyer.  You spend a whole fortune in building a house, then typhoon comes and wala! Destroyed!

So what’s the best to do and to have? Is Jesus saying that better have nothing? For sure not, but he is telling us to be careful of greed that sometimes enters our life. Greed is when I always want more, never happy with what I have, Greed is when I am possessive and never share the graces with others.

Why the problem of gaming… you wish to be richer… or become rich in one day… Can I ask you how many left from 13th street and went to live in a mansion because they won lotto?   You think you become rich, and you become poorer.  Instead of buying food for the family, you buy lotto tickets… and you lose everything.  We need to appreciate what we have and what we have, kahit konti, we use it for the good.

So todays’ gospel is a “wake up call”… “You will not take anything with you!  Focus not on money and earthly possessions but the way you live your life. 

The only treasure which is worth to store is the treasure of the heart.  The biggest treasure is a generous and a loving heart.  To have a generous heart means that in front of God you are a rich person.

How beautiful it is to see generous people … parents playing with your children, husband and wife walking and talking with each other! Young people who give their time and energy to help others! Without getting anything back! Give service to the church, help others in need! Comfort the sick! Sharing their food even if it is konti!    The heart is the true treasure that we show God in our last day.

What am I going to leave when I die?  Happy people people because they got rid of me? Or happy people who learned from me how to live and love… people who experienced the treasures of my heart?

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