The Last and the First

A family friend just had their third child a few months ago, a cute baby girl. The first two are boys, 10 and 8; and when they first brought the baby from the hospital, I asked how did the boys react. My friend said “the little boys gave the baby a cold-shoulder”. They must have been thinking “What is this baby girl doing here?” “Is she taking attention away from us? Weeks later though, the boys started to accept that the newcomer is a member of the family and deserves their love and affection.

In the Gospel, it must have been difficult for the disciples to understand the meaning of this parable (Mt. 20: 1-16); they must have thought how unfair the landowner was. Certainly it wasn’t easy, and it may have taken a long time for the message to sink in. God just doesn’t think the way we people do. “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, nor are your ways my ways, says the LORD.” (Is. 55: 8) God’s love is just so deep and patient as it can possibly be. His desire for us to come to Him doesn’t fade with time, such that He’ll wait when we finally decide to return back to Him. He is patient for as long as it takes.

When we’re growing up, our generation handled a different set of expectations especially when parents almost always dictate our careers and the obedient children that we are, we obliged. It is good that we have a deeper capacity to adjust and to adapt to the realities, minimizing stress and frustrations encountered along the way. Enter the millennials, our children, and the world is entirely different. This time as elders we have to be realistic and our expectations have to take the form of love, support and encouragement rather than demands from them which they reluctantly do. We should be cautious in our expectations as these may push them differently or suppress the blooming of their talents.

At home, I try not to be remiss in my reminders and encouragements and I don’t impose too much expectations, so there’s not much disappointment. We have to be patient in providing the opportunities so our family and friends are inspired and encouraged to fulfill their own calling and respond generously to God’s invitation. Most often the problem of misunderstanding the Gospel message is because of our high expectations. When expectations are higher, we may put unnecessary pressure on ourselves or others which often leads to deterioration in relationships, mental strain, and lowering of self-esteem. While having high aspirations may result to putting more effort on our careers, it may prove unhealthier in the long run. Studies show that we always rank highly of ourselves, unable to put a reality check of the dynamics in the corporate and business world. We should be able to customize our expectations with what’s happening so that there’s a balance in the way we pursue our potential. We have to learn to understand how the world works, understand ourselves better, and an openness to the leadings of the Spirit.

God’s call to follow Him in life is relentless, and so the earlier we can, the earlier we experience the joy of His love. And be His example to others needing His light. Yet, even if we are stubborn, for as long as we’re alive and we have the grace of being invited to the faith, He’ll keep patiently waiting.

Let us therefore, “Seek the LORD while he may be found, call Him while He is near.” (Is. 55: 6)

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