In A World Of Competition

Fourth Sunday of Easter (C)

In this world of competition, wealth and power are measures of fame and popularity. We have learned to ask for the maximum and to give the minimum. We believe that the more we keep things for ourselves, the better off we are. We count by the dollar, we give by our standards, and we calculate by the frequency of our giving. To be remembered, we build for ourselves monuments of stone, we fabricate faces of plastic or gypsum plaster, and we engrave our names on cold metal plates. But we know that stone breaks, plastic melts, gypsum plaster pulverizes, and metal corrodes. Scriptures tell us very realistically: where your treasure is, there will your heart be (Mt 6:21). Those who trust in the ways of the world, ignore the fact that we are meant to live temporarily in this world and live forever in the second life.

However, God does not use stone, plastic or gypsum plaster; neither does He use numbers, measuring cups or tally sheets. He does not count by minutes and hours when He attends to us. He does not serve by territorial jurisdiction. He offers His Body and Blood, Soul and Divinity to draw us to Himself. When He gives, He gives His life; when He forgives, His mercy abounds; when He brings back a person to Himself, He gives the Holy Spirit. God is beyond our comprehension. His compassion, His promise and His reward do not leave persons hanging in the air of doubt and uncertainty, but leads everyone to eternal life. Our Gospel today reminds us that He is the Good Shepherd who knows His sheep, calls and even lays down His life for them. The book of Revelation tells us that He leads them to springs of life-giving water (Rev 7:17). Our treasure is not a thing that we use when it satisfies, and dispose of it when it displeases us. Our treasure is Jesus, the Good Shepherd, who is all in all and the life of the world.

We are told: Give till it hurts. John Maxwell, a management expert would say, “Give till it makes you feel good.” In today’s world where wealth is the measure of success, giving is diminished into a ceremony that awards the action of giving. It has been reduced to mere philanthropic action that even children have learned to be stingy and tightfisted.

Whatever you use to measure people’s needs, will also be used to measure you. Any property or wealth is meant to be used properly for the people of God, for wealth that is laid up for oneself is one that gathers moths and rust and one that thieves break through and steal (Mt 6:19). Ultimately, man’s wealth is his hope in God. The real wealth that a person can be proud of is his development of his capabilities as a child of God. A person who is honest in his affairs will not lose his reward. “The person who is trustworthy in very small matters is also trustworthy in great ones; and the person who is dishonest in very small matters is also dishonest in great ones. If, therefore, you are not trustworthy with dishonest wealth, who will trust you with true wealth? If you are not trustworthy with what belongs to another, who will give you what is yours?” (Lk 16:10-12).

A friend used to tell me: if you eat, you die. If you do not eat, you die. So, eat! He ate, and would eat with gusto. He would also go for yearly medical treatment. Fortunately or unfortunately, he died of heart attack at a very early age. (Who would expect death anyway?) Your body is what you eat. If you gratify yourself with bodily food, you will be satisfied physically. But if you satisfy yourself with food from Heaven you will gain eternal life.

Despite the vitamins we take, the medicinal herbs we gather, the anti-aging (pro-aging) products we use, or the best doctors we visit, we cannot add a day to our life. However, with little cooperation with God’s providence, with the doctors’ help and with little cheerfulness, patience and openness in facing uncertainties and nuances of life, we can add a healthy body, a sound mind and a strong spirit to the years that God is giving us. With adequate time spent in prayer, reading and reflecting on the Scriptures, and fidelity to God’s commands, we can live the days God is giving us in wisdom and grace. With some time spent in the service of others, honesty in work and total surrender to the care of the Good Shepherd, we can add to the life God gives us – compassion, broadmindedness and equanimity.

We celebrate the Eucharist with our education, culture, styles, joys, problems, hurts, and dreams. The Book of Revelation tells us that we are a great multitude, which no one could count, from every nation, race, people, and tongue (Rev 7:9). We stand before God’s throne, to respond to His call and to be sent as His apostles. We accept that the Lamb and Good Shepherd, who suffered, died and rose again, directs our life and our growth in holiness.

We implore the Mother of our Good Shepherd to guide us and protect us from evil and to lead us back to Him, so that we can continually graze in the meadows of His grace. In the midst of attacks against the Papacy, the Priesthood, Religious life and the Church, let us pray for more vocations.

4-21-13

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