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Life or Death?

To be or not to be; that is not only Hamlet’s but also everyone’s most fundamental question. Live or die? Fight or surrender? Continue or quit? Every time we seem to have reached the end of the road, we ask such basic question. It can be asked by a frustrated person or by somebody contemplating on committing suicide. It can be asked by a politician planning to run in the elections, or by an athlete competing in some sports events. Indeed, it can be asked by anyone, at any moment of one’s life.

The gospel this Sunday reminds us of our role as stewards of God’s creation. We are charged as administrators of God’s creation. In many occasions, however, we find ourselves in the shoes of the stewards in the gospel. We think and act as if the vineyard is ours and we can do anything about it as we please. In the process, we become the destroyers of the things entrusted to us. In the end, we reject the owner of the vineyard Himself.

What is it in us that has not been given to us by God? Our house and lot? Our farm and enterprise? Our clothing, books, cell phones? Nothing! Everything belongs to God. We are only stewards. We are only caretakers. At the end of the day, God will take them back from us.

What are our obligations then? Our obligations are similar to our obligations when we loan money from the bank.

First, we take good care of the money. We secure the money. We do not allow any thief to take it away from us. Second, we make something out of it. We invest it very well. We do not borrow money in order to try our luck at the casino. Never! Lastly, we pay the bank back with interest. That is our way of showing our gratification. The money has helped us. We are obliged to gratify the lender.

God has given us both physical and spiritual lives. God gave us body and soul. We must take good care of them. We must not expose ourselves to dangers unnecessarily, such as reckless driving, taking drugs, drinking alcoholic drinks immoderately. These are forms of suicide. Neither should we expose ourselves to temptations like watching bad movies or videos, reading pornographic materials or mixing with bad companions. If we want to avoid sin, we must avoid temptations as well.

God also entrusted to us his Church. He entrusted to us the youth. Some of them were called to enter the seminary to become good priests. We ought to take good care of them. God has also entrusted to us our parish community. It is not only the parish priest or the bishop who should take care of the parish. Every member must act as a steward.

Second, we must invest God’s gifts wisely. There is a saying: an unused life is an early death. Yes, there is not much difference between a man who does nothing about his life and a man who is already dead. To bury our talents is the greatest blunder we can ever commit. All of us must do some heroic acts in life. The first heroic act, I guess, is to wake up early in the morning. Another is to be punctual with our appointments. Another is to be patient with our customers or clients. We must also engage ourselves in some form of apostolate. Visit the sick, feed the hungry. To parents, you ought to give time to tutor or coach your children.

Lastly, we must pay back our dues with interest. When we give our coins to the kolekta, when we give our tithing or donation to charitable institutions or to church projects; these are few of the ways by which we can gratify the Lord for the blessings that we receive. All of us are endowed with different talents. Share them for the parish community, free of charge. That is also stewardship. The Lord will certainly smile at our efforts.

As stewards, we have a fundamental choice: Live or die. Jesus is the vine that we need in the vineyard. To reject him in the vineyard is clearly a choice of damnation, a choice of death. To allow him to be the true source is a choice of life. The choices are laid today. Today we make our choice. To be or not to be?