It is the World Mission Sunday. When we hear the word mission, we probably think of the third worlds where there are great needs of humanitarian aids because of absolute poverty. But, do you know that the church in her very nature is missionary, sent by Christ to all the nations to make disciples of […]
We celebrate many feasts in our life such as birthdays, graduations, various anniversaries, and weddings and even funerals. For these celebrations, family and friends gather to eat and drink together, sharing memories and love. The church also takes an important part of the celebrations in baptism, first communion, confirmation, reconciliation, matrimony, ordination and anointing of the sick. Celebrating feasts is not only special events but also defining moments of who we are and why we live.
In fact, St. Anthony of Padua parish you and I belong to is preparing to celebrate its 50-year presence as the community of faith, hope and love in 2009. The 50th anniversary committee has been diligently working on the yearlong celebration in the theme of “Now thank we all our God.”
Above all, all celebration seems eventful as well as meaningful because the people invited to are reminded of the fact that they don’t want to miss the importance of this time, the time of remembrance and the time of festivity. Here I want to pause a moment to invite you to think about the time that can be either a physical time or an appointed time. Everyone at St. Anthony can say the parish has been 50 years since 1959 when it was established in the diocese of Cleveland. Some may say it is memorable because God’s blessing upon St. Anthony has reached a half-century. Furthermore, it could be a poignant time for St. Anthony to move forward with the renewed spirit in thanksgiving to God and service to His people because the parish is now facing dramatic changes in the process of clustering. So this celebration wouldn’t only be a happy festival but a time to reflect on what we have done and how we make a difference for the local community in the future. This is the appointed time and God’s time moving beyond the physical time.
In order to be prepared to take part in the time set apart, we need to look at our disposition, our readiness for the celebration. The gospel tells us that it comes with a wedding garment. You can’t go to the White House with your working attire! It shows not only your appearance but also your inner and spiritual readiness. The celebrating time seems always just around the corner like all your upcoming events. What is your garment? How do you prepare it?
The country is in chaos these last several days because of bankruptcies in Wall Street that led to a credit crisis. The government said that they urgently needed $700 billion bailout to fix the problem. In fact, the presidential election is one month away. The candidates say that they are the ones who can change the politics and recover the economy. What is your opinion? Where do you find hope?
Let’s look at the gospel. The allegorical pieces are in place. God is the owner of the vineyard. Israel, God’s people, is the vineyard. The tenants are the religious leaders. The target of this parable is obviously religious leadership who are not happy with the status of tenants; they want to be the owner. So they refuse to produce the wine from the grapes the landowner planted. They want to be autonomous. They do not want to live in a covenant agreement. They want it all and its face is greed. Greed kills, some activists said. It makes sense.
To tell the truth first, we do not own the vineyard; we work in it. When we want it all, we inherit nothing. In other words, if we want to be like God, we lose everything we have received from the Creator like Adam and Eve who dared to be like God by eating the forbidden fruit. Sin is forgetting the status of creature and trying to be like its creator.
(Opening comment) We often say, time is flying by or time is dragging. Is it possible time can fly or drag us? Is it right to say that our perception on time somehow determines who we are by our date of birth or by our age? Are we giving certain power to time to control us? But there are other times. At this moment, we leave ordinary time to enter a special liturgical time so that through it we may enter into a time set apart, a time outside of time, a time beyond time. Let us leave our ordinary time by taking off the watches we are wearing now and put them inside the pocket. (Wait for the people doing that)
God promises in the first reading today, since someone has turned away from all the sins that he has committed, he shall surely live, he shall not die. In order to enter into God’s time, leaving human time, let us acknowledge our sinfulness like tax collectors and prostitutes so that we can enter the kingdom of God.
(Homily) The cultural difference between Asia and Western countries often gets me in trouble. When I was in England, the host at my homestay looked quite old to me although he probably was in his sixties at most. One day, I appreciated his kindness and thoughtfulness by calling him “old man.” He seemed shocked; I didn’t understand why. Being old means being mature and wise to me. When I went to Madagascar, I called a monsignor who traveled together “grandpa Joe.” It took a while for him to understand what I meant.
(Question to the people after reading the gospel) How do you think the story? Is it right for the landowner to do like that? Any issues you see here? Is it fair?
What is your definition of fairness? (Ex. The attitude of being just to all)
But most would think that if someone gets what I am getting but hasn’t put in as much work as I have, I am being cheated. Is there any other way to see this? This is the limit of human fairness.
Here is the famous example of that called “The prisoner’s dilemma.”
Two suspects are arrested by the police. The police have insufficient evidence for a conviction, and, having separated both prisoners, visit each of them to offer the same deal. If one testifies for the prosecution against the other and the other remains silent, the betrayer goes free and the silent accomplice receives the full 10-year sentence. If both remain silent, both prisoners are sentenced to only six months in jail for a minor charge. If each betrays the other, each receives a five-year sentence. Each prisoner must choose to betray the other or to remain silent. Each one is assured that the other would not know about the betrayal before the end of the investigation. How should the prisoners act?