On Apples and Oranges
One ordinary morning at Lourdes Kinder School in Punta Princesa, Zachary approaches Teacher Erica Escasinas with a surprise.
“Teacher, I have big apples and oranges just for you!”
“Really,” she replies. “Thanks. But why are you giving these to me Zachy?”
Thinking of an answer, he gives her a boyish stare.
Then he smiles.. “Because.. I love you.”
Teacher Erica got love struck for thirty-seconds by his candid thought. And she hugged Zachary tightly. She claimed it has been a while since she heard those words said so sincerely.
Our lives are made up of parables. Ordinary situations may have amazing lessons for us to reap. Through them one can acquire extraordinary lessons of love, courage, faith or forgiveness. Like every student, we need to be attentive and observant to grasp whatever parable hidden in our lives. We need to form the habit of reflection within ourselves in order to discern the silent ways of God’s instruction.
Jesus was a great teacher. He was an expert storyteller. A big part of his teachings were presented in parables. His stories were lifelike which his hearers could identify and relate. Most of these parables illustrate the Kingdom of God; its coming and its presence.
In today’s Gospel, Jesus proposes three parables to describe God’s reign. The first parable, which is longer and more detailed, narrates about the “weeds and wheat.” Then he goes on to tell about the growth of “the mustard seed” and finally “the yeast” used in baking. All of them explain that the growth of God’s Kingdom is hidden; even secret. Though many times imperceptive like the mustard growing into a tree, the Kingdom of God starts in our world.
This mystery puzzles us when we realize that God simply allows the “weeds and wheat” to grow along side by side. Together. Moreover, we feel a sense of injustice thinking that God permits evil to happen at the expense of those who are faithful. Many times we ask: “Why do bad things happen to good people?”
Once, a young person came to my office in order to talk to me. He was teary eyed. The very first words he uttered were: “Father, life is unfair!” He disclosed that he has been struggling in so many areas of his life. Financially his parents are hard up. He is affected emotionally and socially. In school, he felt jealous to some of his peers who were born with a “golden spoon in their mouth.” The temptation to end everything sooner is always present. Finding God in his situation was most difficult.
Our faith gives us the strength and courage not to lose heart though we feel the unfairness of life. God’s word can help us to understand and not be deceived by our pessimistic thoughts. Life is really a mixture of weeds and wheat, truth and error, sin and holiness, light and shadows. Though we see the reality of violence, hate and the triumph of evil, may we look beyond with hope and greater meaning.
Most of all, let us never lose sight of God’s Providence every single day. Through simple joys and ordinary situations like a child sharing his apples and oranges to an suspecting teacher, may we have the wisdom to discover God’s hidden presence. These are ingredients which are the source of inspiring parables that direct and guide our life.
(This article appeared in my Column: “Sharing the Word,” Cebu Daily News – July 23, 2017)