BY: Fr. Mike Lagrimas

Matthew 11:25-30 A fisherman is out to sea and an old bottle comes alongside his rickety boat. He picks it up, opens it and, lo and behold, a genie pops out! The genie says, “Thank you for giving back my freedom! As a reward, I will grant you three wishes.” The man was ecstatic. “That’s great!” he says. “First, I want one billion dollars in a Swiss bank.” Poof! There is a flash of light and a piece of paper from a Swiss bank with account number and a billion dollars on it appears in his hand! Now he is a billionaire! Then he continues, “I’m tired of this old fishing boat. I want a brand new luxury yacht, with a helicopter on its deck.” Poof! There is a flash of light and a luxury yacht appears right next to his old boat! “And, finally, I want to be irresistible to women.” Poof! There is a flash of light … and he turns into a box of chocolates! Truly irresistible!

The folly of greed! It looks like he didn’t realize that a billion dollars and a luxury yacht are enough to make him irresistible to women. Indeed, greed can make a person lose his common sense and right judgment. This is what the Lord is pointing out in the Gospel this Sunday. “I give praise to you, Father, for although you have hidden these things from the wise and the learned, you have revealed them to the childlike” (Mt 11:25). Only those people whose hearts are simple and humble, like that of a little child, are able to discover what can give true and lasting happiness.

Obviously, not too many people are like that. The spirit of materialism, hedonism and egoism in these times has afflicted most of us. Hence, many people nowadays do not anymore know when to say, “Enough is enough”. And so they go on acquiring and accumulating material things, to the point of unbridled and irrational excess. There are people who own and maintain four houses, and they are only three in the family. Even if each one takes one house, there is still one house vacant. A family has five cars, but only two family members know how to drive. No matter how good you are in driving, you cannot drive two cars simultaneously. And of course, there are those who have a lot of money in the bank more than they can spend their entire life, and still they fiercely struggle to have more money. Where will all this money go? These people already have more than enough, and yet they still want more. Isn’t it the height of foolishness?

Lest we think that this concerns only the rich, look again. Ordinary people suffer the same ailment. How many have left their well paying jobs at home to work abroad? They risked family life to run after greener pastures. And the children grow up without parental love and guidance. Hence, the famous Filipino adage, “Aanhin pa ang damo kung patay na ang kabayo?” (Of what use is hay when the horse is dead?) Or better still, “Aanhin pa ang damo, kung ang anak mo ay mayroon nang shabu?” How many of us cannot give quality time to our family, and who find no time to take a meaningful rest, because we are practically enslaved by our work and career? There is a quotation that says, “People spend their health to gain wealth; then they spend their wealth to regain their health.” Isn’t this foolishness? Saint Teresa of Kolkata accurately diagnosed the situation of the world: “I think today the world is upside down, and is suffering so much because there is very little love in the home, and in family life. We have no time for our children, we have no time for each other, there is no time to enjoy each other… Love begins at home; love lives in homes, and that is why there is so much suffering and so much unhappiness in the world today…Everybody today seems to be in such a terrible rush, anxious for greater developments and greater riches and so on, so that children have very little time for their parents. Parents have very little time for each other, and in the home begins the disruption of the peace of the world.”

Let us learn the lesson. St. Augustine learned it just in time. And he concluded, “My soul is restless until it rests in you, O Lord!” This world cannot give us real and lasting happiness. Let us be wise enough to realize that it is only in God that we will find true peace, happiness and eternal riches. It is time to worship and serve the Creator, and not the creatures; to strive for eternal heavenly treasures, and not the passing worldly treasures. It is time to live as little children – simple, humble, and totally dependent on God – in order to discover the mysteries of God’s Kingdom.

Hence, in the Gospel, Jesus invites us: “Come to me, all you who labor and are burdened, and I will give you rest” (Mt 11:28). Running after all these worldly things is truly an exercise in futility. And so we find life frustrating and burdensome. The Lord now invites us to an intimate and meaningful personal relationship with Him. He is still in charge of the world. He is in charge of our life. Worrying is simply pointless. A quotation from an unknown author says, “Worrying does not take away tomorrow’s troubles; it takes away today’s peace.” More importantly, it reveals how little is our faith in God, and how distant we are from Him.

This, then, is a clear invitation for us to slow down. Let us resist the temptation to join the mad rush in this world’s rat race. There is more to life than speed. As the saying goes, “The early bird might get the worm, but the second mouse gets the cheese”. This is also an invitation for us to a life of simplicity. Happiness does not consist in having more, but in being contented with what we have. Interestingly, the Spanish word for “happy” is “contento”.

Jesus invites us, “Come to me!” And He waits.

Fr. Mike Lagrimas
Our Lady of Guadalupe Parish Palmera Springs 3, Susano Road Camarin, Novaliches, Caloocan City 1422

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