PUTTING THE DOORKNOB FIRST

30th Sunday in Ordinary Time          

            There was a man who wanted to have a house for his family. He went to his architect friend in order to discuss the details.

            The architect asked him what kind of a house he wanted – how many rooms, how many floors, did he want a garden, etc. The man took out an old doorknob from his pocket and said to the architect, “My wife loves this old doorknob very much and both of us want a house that will match this doorknob.” “It’s up to you to design the rest of the house so that it will match this doorknob.”

            The man and his wife seemed to love their old doorknob as today’s gospel commands us to love God. They loved that doorknob with their whole heart, with their whole soul, and with their whole mind. Everything else was of little importance to them. They put the doorknob first.

            Are there any other people who act like this man and his wife? There are. That couple stands for people who have made ‘something’ their ‘god.’ For example: There are people who have made money their ‘god’; that is why everything, including God, is used to acquire material wealth. There are people who have made power their ‘god’; that is why everything, including God, is just but a tool or means to gain political power. There are people who have made fame and popularity (ala showbiz) their ‘god’; that is why everything else takes second place in their lives. There are people who have made their career, profession or business, their physical beauty, body figure or aesthetic attractiveness, their dream house, fancy sports car, high-tech gadgets or other highly-valued material things their ‘gods’. There are people who have made another person their ‘god’ – be it a lover, a sexual partner, a patron, a pulitiko, a popular president, a showbiz personality or somebody they worship and idolize.

            How about us? What have we chosen to put first in our lives? We may be laughing at the couple in our story; but maybe there is a little bit of them in all of us. Maybe we have our own ‘doorknob’ that makes everything else of little importance to us or makes everything else revolve around it.

            In today’s gospel, Jesus says, “You shall love the Lord, your God, with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.” Jesus is telling us, in effect, “Let all your thoughts be on God alone. Every word and action of yours must be for God.” Ang buong puso natin, buong kaluluwa natin, at buong pag-iisip natin ay nakatuon at nakalaan para lamang sa Diyos?

            “Teacher, which commandment in the law is the greatest?” This question can be paraphrased in this way: “What is the most important thing in life?” To make today’s gospel more relevant, we have to honestly ask ourselves: What is the most important thing in our life that makes everything else of little or lesser importance? One way to find out what is the most important thing for us is to ask: What is it that we are thinking of most of the time?

            If we are going to be totally honest with ourselves, we may be surprised – and even shocked – with the answer or the truth that we find. Because we might discover that what is really important to us, what is always in our mind, what we are thinking most of the time is: how to earn more money, get richer and acquire more possessions; or how to gain political power and remain in power; or how to advance in our career, profession or business; or how to be famous, to be admired or idolized by others; or how to look young, physically beautiful and attractive. If we are always thinking of something, it is most likely that that something is the most important thing for us.

            Perhaps, as Fr. Nil Guillemette suggests in his gospel commentary, we must begin by an act of humble confession and admit that our priorities are not really those of Jesus: the love of God and the love of neighbor. If that is the case, the first step in changing our priorities is to make this initial admission. If love is not the most important thing in our life, then we are, indeed, still very far from the way of Jesus. And it is high time that we recognize in what direction we are walking. “You shall love the Lord, your God, with all your heart,   with all your soul, and with all your mind.” “Love your neighbor as yourself.”

            By reaching out to love our neighbor as ourselves we will find that the kingdom of God is very near and experience what someone wrote – let us read this together and make it our prayer: I went to the mountains to seek wisdom, but did not find it. I went to the sea to seek peace, but did not find it. I went to the temple to seek God, but did not find him. I went to serve my neighbor, and I found all three.          

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