5th Sunday of Lent, Year B
Jer 31:31-35; Heb 5:7-9:Jn 12:20-33
Salvation Economy of Loss and Gain
Ours is a profit-driven society. It is an economy in which business people and employers seriously consider what profit they would make before they can ever delve into any business venture. Similarly, employees do not only care about their income, but also look at how much profit they can make at a particular job. Rightfully, it is a worthy fore thought because we are expected to pay taxes, utility bills, insurance and so on.
However, when life becomes one mad chase for wealth, we would become profiteers; people who take advantage of every situation in the market or at the job to make profit, even to the detriment of the poor. This can affect our social and mental stability. Too much of a thing is always a disease. For example, we would not be able to have a restful vacation because our minds will constantly be working at one more gain. Because of this profit-driven mentality, it is hard to tell a genuine charitable act. A little girl asked her mum the sum of 10cents to give to an old lady at the Park. Her mom was very touched at the kindness of the girl and gave her the requested sum. Then she asked, “Does that lady not work anymore?” “Oh yes” came her reply, “she sells sweets”
The salvation economy of loss and gain is completely contrary to the capitalist system of profit and loss. In the former, gain is loss and loss is gain. It is about eternal rewards, not temporary gain. This is what we read in the gospel: “Amen, amen, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains just a grain of wheat; but if it dies, it produces much fruit. Whoever loves his life loses it, and whoever hates his life in this world will preserve it for eternal life.”
Christ’s death on the cross seemed like a loss, but it won for us the resurrection. The sufferings of Christ seemed like a loss, but all will eventually turn into joy. St Paul expresses this beautifully: “I consider everything a loss because of the supreme advantage of knowing Christ my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them as garbage, that I may know Christ (Phil 3:8).
It is only within this economy that Christians are able to make sacrifices. The church offers several opportunities for us to make sacrifices that will yield eternal reward: works of charity, participation in apostolic and action groups in the church such as Knights of Columbus, Choir Altar Sodality. Sacrificing our time, comfort, and convenience are all fine means of building our eternal credit score.
Many people today are egocentric; it is all about ‘myself,’ ‘my time,’ ‘my convenience.’ A school boy was asked what parts of speech me and mine were. He said aggressive pronouns. To this end, we have become victims of the I-technology-iPod, Ipad, Iphone, Myspace, selfie. Some of these have created a gulf between us and “others”
The story of the rich fool in Luke 12 is worth reflecting upon: “The ground of a certain rich man yielded an abundant harvest. He thought to himself, ‘What shall I do? I have no place to store my crops. Then he said, ‘This is what I’ll do. I will tear down my barns and build bigger ones, and there I will store my surplus grain. And I’ll say to myself, “You have plenty of grain laid up for many years. Take life easy; eat, drink and be merry.” But God said to him, ‘You fool! This very night your life will be demanded from you. Then who will get what you have prepared for yourself?’
Though parable is an admonition against greed, its root lies in the desire for excessive gain. What then shall it profit a man if he gains the whole world and loses his soul (Mk 8:36). Meagher Patrick said “some people are so poor, the only thing they have is money.”
Let us always say the prayer: From earthy gain, which is heavenly loss deliver me O Lord.
When excessive pursuit of gain becomes the rule of life, we easily fall into the temptation of its unjust acquisition. “Whoever increases wealth by taking interest or profit form the poor, amasses it for another who will be kind to the poor” (Prov. 28:8) And, “To build your house with other people’s money is like collecting stones for your own tomb.
The story is told of an Attorney who died and went to heaven. As he approached the Pearly gates, he noticed an orchestra playing and all the angels cheering. “You are very special,” St Peter said, “We have never had anyone live to be 130 years before.” The Attorney was puzzled. “But I am only 65.” St Peter thought for a moment and said, “Oh we must have added up your billing hours.”
Billing hours are often exaggerated for want of excessive profit. Some billing hours can cost the lives of an entire family.
From earthly gain, which is heavenly loss, deliver me O Lord.