Looking Glasses

September 25, 2022 – 26th Sunday in Ordinary Time

Click here for the readings (https://bible.usccb.org/bible/readings/092522.cfm)

Once a very rich man approached their parish priest for an advice. He said to the priest, “Father, I have a problem that is bothering me a lot. You know how rich I am. I have everything I need. I get everything I want. But how come I feel I’m not fully satisfied? There is always that emptiness & missing in me that do not satisfy. I maybe rich outside, but I am actually poor inside. What do you think of my problem, Father?” The priest invited the rich man in his living room and brought him near the glass window. And the priest instructed him, “Look out into the window and tell me what you see.” He said, “I see people walking around the plaza.” Then, the priest brought him in front of a large mirror and said, “Look into the mirror and tell me what you see.” “I see myself,” he replied. Then the priest explains, “You know what, both the window and the mirror are made of glass. But their difference lies in the silver paint. As you may notice, the mirror is glass coated with silver paint & the window is just a plain see-through glass. So, whenever you look through a plain glass window, you see people – you see others. But whenever you looked at silver-coated plain glass mirror, you will only see yourself – not others. You cannot see other & you even stop seeing others, but only yourself. So, whenever we start to only concern ourselves with wealth and riches, i.e. coating our plain glasses with silver-money, we start to become blind to see others but only see ourselves.”

Reflecting on this story and our parable today, we can say that it somehow echoes our day-to-day life experiences. Conscious of the hard times we are going through these days – not only in our country & in our world but with ourselves, sometimes we wonder what causes the great gap between rich and poor. What makes poor poorer or desolate? What makes rich richer? What makes life difficult nowadays? What makes me poor or rich? What makes my life difficult or easy these days?

This is what Jesus is trying to teach and convey us today. 

First, Jesus describes us that our self-centeredness makes us blind, insensitive, & unconcerned to the needs of others. Just like the rich man in our parable today, he was too full of himself that he was unconcerned about the poor Lazarus at his doorsteps. He was too full of himself that even before God, he was more concerned with himself – his own thirst and salvation that he only perceived Lazarus as his errand to quench his thirst and to warn his own family about his fate in heaven. “Send him..” the rich man said, to command even God for Lazarus to do his wishes. So full of himself… conceited, & self-centered. Here Jesus warns us of the consequence of our self-centeredness. It makes us only see our own selves, making us blind to the needs of others, most especially the poor.

Second, Jesus maintains also that our silver-coatings taints our plain glasses. Meaning, our material possessions, wealth, and riches make us self-centered and greedy. Like the rich men in our story and in our parable, money, and earthly possessions taint and distort our perceptions of others. Our materialism makes us selfish and blind to the needs of other people, making us only view life from our selfish mirrors.

At the same time, Jesus is telling us today that all of these, our greed, self-centeredness, and earthly possessions do not give us meaning in life and promise us our salvation. For Jesus, God has endowed us with a lot of blessings not only for own sake but also for others. It would mean that we are not the sole owners but just stewards or managers of God’s graces. The blessings & graces we have now are meant not only for ourselves but to be shared with & to others. We are called therefore to be partakers & sharers of God’s blessings to others. In God’s Kingdom, sharing not hoarding is the name of the game, & the way forward.

In a sense, God has already given us looking glasses to see. It is up to us then how we use our glasses – either as mirrors for our selfish interest or as windows for further growth in our relationship with God and concerns for others.  In other words, our mirrors – our self-centeredness makes life poor, difficult & empty, as well as our windows – our other-centeredness makes our life rich, easy, & meaningful.

May the Lord continue to grant us the wisdom and audacity to make use of our God-given blessings be shared with others for the sake, not of ours alone, but mostly for God’s glory & other’s good. Amen.

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