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Sunday, October 11, 2009

October 11 A Monkey's Prayer

October 11

Twenty-Eighth Sunday in Ordinary Time
Gospel According to Mark

As Jesus was setting out on a journey, a man ran up, knelt down before him, and asked him, “Good teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?” Jesus answered him, “Why do you call me good? No one is good but God alone. You know the commandments: You shall not kill; you shall not commit adultery; you shall not steal; you shall not bear false witness; you shall not defraud; honor your father and your mother.” He replied and said to him, “Teacher, all of these I have observed from my youth.” Jesus, looking at him, loved him, and said to him, “You are lacking in one thing. Go, sell what you have, and give to the poor and you will have treasure in heaven; then come, follow me.” At that statement his face fell, and he went away sad, for he had many possessions.

Jesus looked around and said to his disciples, “How hard it is for those who have wealth to enter the kingdom of God!” The disciples were amazed at his words. So Jesus again said to them in reply, “Children, how hard it is to enter the kingdom of God! It is easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle than for one who is rich to enter the kingdom of God.” They were exceedingly astonished and said among themselves, “Then who can be saved?” Jesus looked at them and said. “For human beings it is impossible, but not for God. All things are possible for God.” (Mark 10:17-27)

A Monkey’s Prayer

In some parts of the world monkey is still hunted for food. In these parts of the world a hunter waits patiently watching a hollowed out coconut shell he has tethered to a tree. The hunter has placed this shell along a monkey trail over a pile of roasted peanuts. In the coconut shell the hunter has carefully formed a small hole just large enough for a monkey hand to fit through. Soon the hunter’s patience is rewarded; a monkey traveling along the trail is attracted to the coconut shell by the deliciously tempting aroma coming from inside the trap. The monkey, considered a rather intelligent animal, slips his hand through the hole carefully feeling for what his senses tell him will be an appetizing treat. The monkey grabs his reward, a handful of roasted peanuts and attempts to pull his fist from the coconut. The closed fist of the monkey will not fit through the hole the hunter devised. The only way for the monkey to escape capture would be to open his fist, drop his treasure, slip his hand back out and scurry away to eat another day. As the monkey ponders his choice, the hunter captures him with a net. Trapped, the monkey, if he was inclined to pray might say, “Dear God please save me, and please let me have these roasted peanuts as my reward.”

Life is full of choices, some more important than others. Each choice comes with a consequence. The choices we make in life are derived from the personal values we possess. Values determine our way of being, living and acting. In the gospel the rich man was invited to make a choice. If he is to have eternal life Jesus asks him to sell all that he has and follow him. The rich man is sad because he has many possessions. The gospel doesn’t tell us the end of the story. The story ends leaving us to contemplate what we would do in this circumstance.

As I pondered this question for myself and what Fr. Julito said in his sermon regarding this gospel it was clear to me that God wasn’t saying that we cannot have wealth, or what is necessary to live, but he was saying not to become too attached to it. Having riches may give us a temporary sense of security, leading us to “hold on” to “false” treasures, when at times the better choice would be to “let go” and truly find our reward. Let go and trust God’s path for our life.

Everything that I have gathered in my life, all of it is truly a gift. I am aware from whom that gift comes and to whom it belongs. It is my prayer that when called upon to let go of the things that I feel I cannot live without I will. I have already seen this in one aspect and been richly rewarded by opening my fist. No one can out do or out give God.

“Save me oh Lord,

give me the grace to open my hand

and my heart when you call.

Forgive me my trespasses

as I forgive those who trespass against me.

And lead me not into temptation,

but deliver me from evil. Amen”

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