NOTHING HAD BEEN REDUCED

25th Sunday in Ordinary Time   

            John Chambers, in his book With Eyes Fixed on Jesus, tells the story about a certain Akbar and Birbal. Akbar drew a line on a blackboard and asked Birbal to shorten the line without erasing any part of the line. Birbal was a wise man. He drew a longer line on the blackboard, right next to the original line which Akbar had drawn. After doing that, the first line seemed to become shorter in comparison with the second and longer line.

            Most of the time, comparisons never result in good for us. When we compare ourselves with others, either we feel inferior (and that is not good) or we feel superior (and that is also not good). Someone said, “Comparison is a thug that robs your joy. But it is even more than that: Comparison makes you a thug who beats down somebody – your soul.” “Comparison is an act of violence against the self.” Are you doing violence to yourself by comparing yourself with others?

            This is what happened to the first batch of laborers in today’s gospel parable who had worked a full day in the vineyard. They compared their wage with the wage of the last batch of laborers who had only worked for an hour. They grumbled and complained, saying, “These last ones worked only one hour, and you have made them equal to us, who bore the day’s burden and the heat.”

            The pay that the first workers had happily agreed upon in the morning was not reduced – just as the first line which Akbar had drawn had not been reduced. But because they compared their wage with the wage of the laborers who were hired at the last hour, the workers felt unhappy, unsatisfied, shortchanged. Para sa kanila hindi makatarungan ang ginawa ng may-ari; pakiramdam nila dinaya sila nang pagpantayin nito ang upa o sahod ng lahat ng manggagawa sa kanyang ubasan. Their grumbling and complaining made them saddest of men.

            We are people who love to grumble, to complain, to murmur. According to of Bishop Soc Villegas, to grumble or to murmur is not just to badmouth somebody; to murmur is not just to reject. To murmur is to express disbelief about what God has done for us. Ang pagrereklamo o pagmamaktol natin ay nagpapakita lamang na hindi natin napahahalagahan at naipagpapasalamat ang mga pinagkakaloob at ginagawa ng Diyos sa atin.

            It is said that the secret of happiness is to count your blessings; while the secret of sadness is to compare yourself with others. It happens many times that at first, we are happy and content with what we have or what we get; but once we compare it to what others have or get, our happiness and contentment vanish. For example: We are happy with our house…until our neighbor builds a bigger mansion. We are content with our clothes and shoes…until our officemate wears the latest fashion. We enjoy our gadget or smartphone…until our friend gets the latest and the coolest. We are pleased with our accomplishment… ntil our rival accomplishes something greater. We are glad with what we have…until our adversary gets more.

            Sadya ngang ang paghahambing ng ating sarili sa iba, ang pagkukumpara ng meron tayo sa meron ng iba, ay madalas hindi nakabubuti sa atin – dahil madalas nauuwi lamang ito sa pagkainggit at pagmamaktol natin. Kaya sa halip na ipagpasalamat natin ang biyayang natatanggap ng ibang tao, sa halip na ikasiya natin ang magagandang bagay na tinatamasa nila, sa halip na ikatuwa natin ang mabubuting bagay na nagagawa nila, sa halip na makipagbunyi tayo sa kanila sa mga tagumpay nila, sa halip na ma-appreciate at ma-affirm natin ang ating kapwa, eh, umiiral sa atin ang pagkainggit at patago tayong nagmumukmok. Most of the time, comparisons never have good results. They only make us feel less blessed, less favored, less fortunate, less beautiful, less successful. In short, everything in us and about us seems reduced       or diminished because of comparisons.

            The landowner was blunt in telling the grumbling workers, “Are you envious because I am generous?” Aesop has a fable about two eagles – one envious of the other because the other could soar higher and more elegantly than he could. So, the envious eagle would pluck his strongest feathers from his body and shoot them as arrows, trying to wound or kill the other eagle. It was his own undoing, however. He could not hit the high-flying eagle, and he was eventually grounded by his lack of feathers. Envy grounded the eagle.

            Let us, therefore, pray that we may overcome envy – because envy breeds anger and resentment. The antidote to envy is a deep sense of gratitude…being always grateful for who we are and what we have. Let us count our blessings for us to be happy. And let us stop comparing ourselves with others.    

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