LONG SPOONS: A HOMILY ON MONDAY, 31ST WEEK IN ORDINARY TIME, YEAR II, IBADAN
The two images above show first, those in heaven, and then, those in hell. They all have longs spoons to eat with as well as enough food to eat, but while those in heaven were trying to feed each other, those in hell were each trying to feed themselves. The result is that those in heaven get satisfied, but those in hell die of hunger even when they have the food. This allegory helps us to understand the virtue of generousity.
St. Paul in the first reading tells us that if we are in Christ, and we are loving, and we live in the spirit, and we have some affection and sympathy, then we should do away with selfishness or conceit. He encourages us to seek the interest of others rather than our own. The analogy of the long spoon says it all. Fr. Anthony Pathe CSsR, our oldest Redemptorist confrere in South Africa, now over 96 years old, would always say ‘As long as you are serving yourself, you will never be happy’.
At that time: Jesus said to the ruler who belonged to the Pharisees, who had invited him, “When you give a dinnner or a banquet, do not invite your friends or your brothers or your kinsmen or rich neighbours, lest they also invite you in return, and you be repaied. But when you give a feast, invite the poor, the maimed, the lame, the blind, and you will be blessed, because they cannot repay you. You will be repaid at the resurrection of the just.: Jesus is warning us agaist a certain form of selfishness which looks like generousity. Sometimes we are very selective with our generousity. When my birthday comes, I note all those who have phoned or visited me, so that when their birthdays come, I will phone or visit them. When I am sick, I will mark all those who came to see me, so that when they are sick, I will also visit them. I have to attend so and so’s funeral because he attended my son’s funeral. By so doing, we consider ourselves loving and charitable, but what we are actually doing is promoting our own welfare.
It is like the love of a dog. Someone told me that the reason the dog seems to love the owner is because his survival depends on the owner. I dont know about that, but many of us are very good, but to people we believe are in a position where we can enjoy their goodness either now or later. This is very selfish, because in the end, we are still doing it for ourselves. This is why we get angry when we do good to people and they dont come back to say ‘thank you’. Why is their gratitude so important to us if we are truly selfless?
We can also be selfish in our prayers. That is why in the general intercession at mass, particular prayers are not allowed. Sometimes someone is told to pray on behalf of the community and he/she starts praying for his/her family, for his/her own personal needs, etc. When we are praying for the sick at mass, even when we want to mention a particular name we will begin by saying ‘Let us pray for all the sick, especially….’ In this way, we recongnise that my mother is not the only sick person in the world. Even though in our Eucharistic prayers, the names of the Pope and Bishop is mentioned, a closer attention will reveal that such prayers usually begin with praying for the whole church, especially…. In the Eucharistic prayer number 2, it says “Remember, Lord, your Church, spread throughout the world, and bring her to the fullness of charity, together with N. our Pope and N. our Bishop, and all the clergy.” Yes, it is actually for the whole church.
If you want to go to heaven and if you want your life on earth to be a foretaste of heaven, then you need a long spoon.
I am Fr. Ifeanyichukwu Henry Nwokoro, CSsR. I am your fellow child of God and this is my way of sharing my daily reflections with you. Please feel free to leave a comment, suggestion or question. Let everything that lives and that breathes give praise to the Lord.
View all posts by Fr. Ifeanyichukwu Henry Nwokoro CSsR