TIME TO REPENT IS NOW
These couple of days I was listening to the Press Conference (Sidang Media) on the development of Coronavirus disease by Tan Sri Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah. We see new COVID-19 clusters emerging throughout the country, due to the Sabah’s State Election and the returnees of people to the West Malaysia, which eventually recorded 287 and 317 cases, its highest since we have been hit by the pandemic, last Friday and Saturday, 2nd and 3rd October.
While listening to the press conference, I was reading the comments and complaint by the public who were voicing out their sighs, laments and dissatisfactions. Many of them were just angry and continuously blamed for the spike in cases on the recent Sabah election. One of few strong expressions from the people was “why there was an election in the first place during this pandemic and why the politicians are so self-centered in proceeding with this election.”
Passing these couple of months, Malaysia was just doing well with maintaining the single and doubt digits. Now, we are looking at exceeding the double digit marks. In the second reading from St Paul’s letter to the Philippians, St Paul says, “Never worry about anything.” Then, he said, “Tell God all your desires of every kind in prayer and petition…” (Phil 4: 6).
In God’s vineyard, people “have no anxiety at all.” It is easier to say then to actually doing it. How not to worry or be anxious when things are leading us to uncertainty and fear especially during this pandemic. At times, we do panic. What we want is to be free of sorts of anxiety and fear. We do not want ourselves be overgrown with the worldly anxiety. As St. Paul advises us, “let your minds be filled with everything that is true, everything that is honourable, everything that is upright and pure, everything that we love and admire… and then God of peace will be with you,” (Phil 4: 8-9).
In the 1st reading and the Gospel use the same image of vineyard. It explains that the farmer who owns a vineyard expects first class vine to grow in his field and anticipates a rich harvest. But it was a disappointment. The vineyard he likes and cares for so much, which he spends so much money, labour, turned out to be acid grapes, sour and not edible. He started to destroy his vineyard, and what kind of fruits does our God expect? Faithfulness, love for one another… but we turn out to be infidelity, hatred, etc. (Isaiah 5:1-7).
In this week’s Gospel, the complaint was about the vineyard workers. We could see that the vineyard owner made three efforts to get the vineyard worker to change their ways. When the harvest time arrives the owner sends his servants to collect the harvest but they were beaten up and, for some, killed. After the first and second failure, finally the owner sent to his son to collect the harvest, and they killed him too.
Here, the message is that God always gives us many opportunities and patiently waits for our conversion and God never cuts us off. But it will come a day when God’s patience will run out and on that day, we will be answerable for the way we choose. We must repent and return to God from all our indifferences, not thankful for what we already have and our selfishness ways. That time to repent is now, and not in the grave.
We cannot be converted by overnight by our own will, only. We need God’s help and His Grace. We need to bear fruits and bear fruits for all people to appreciate. We need to place all our requests before God. As St. Paul today says once again, “present your needs to God in prayer and He will stand guard over your hearts and minds, so that we may be good fruits. Let’s fill our hearts and minds with noble intentions and honourable deeds, rejoicing always that the Lord is always with us and near us as we fight against our battles, and COVID-19 pandemic.
Rev. Fr. George Packiasamy