Wondering why life is boring? Anxious for Facebook “likes”? … try using our talents to improve life for others
In the context of today’s Gospel, the First Reading makes more sense if we see the overflowing, and generous, amount of wine in terms of inner joy created by the Spirit working in us.
Wine is a symbol of joy: in moderation, it helps people relax and be more friendly (although too much can do the opposite!).
When we reflect on the 2nd Reading, we can see that allowing the Spirit to work through us to help others, causes us to experience a lot of inner-joy (which is sometimes more helpful to understand as: deep meaning for life and contentment with what I am doing).
For example, often it’s not easy to be a mum or dad to children. But even when we are outwardly angry or upset, inwardly we value ourselves because being a parent is meaningful, important and life-giving.
The situation of Israel in the first Reading was tragic: they had lost their land in the exile. Their identity, like many Africans, was linked to the land. But what to do if you lose the land?
The reality of life for many people in the world, today, is that they will never own a piece of land. Many people are tenants to land-owners/ Landlords.
So, how do we/ they find meaning and identity in life? By allowing the Spirit to work through us for the good of others.
Someone commented recently that the current generations are the “look-at-me” people. Frantically posting picture after picture on Facebook, Twitter, TicTok and others.
A humorous picture came to me recently showing a lady carrying a plate of food to the next door neighbour. The old man thought she was bringing him a plate of food, but the lady said: “my internet was down, and I thought you would like to know what I’m eating tonight.”
The Spirit was at work in the lady by creating the food, but she did not allow the Spirit go out from her to help others. Therefore, she went home outwardly with a full plate, but inwardly “empty.” However, if she had prepared for two people and given one plate to the neighbour, she would have gone home outwardly and inwardly “full”.
Showing off to the neighbour gave her an outward moment of pleasure, but no deep meaning for life. The lady, like many of us, had become a slave dependent on the approval and praise of others, similar to people desperately waiting for “likes” on their Facebook posts.
Please, let us not go home and say: well that’s Mass over for another week.
Our real Mass is just beginning: filled with the Eucharist, we are invited to allow the Spirit to work through us to create new opportunities for others to find dignity & solutions to problems.
In the process, we develop deep inner joy and a great sense of purpose & meaning for our lives. “My friend, there is no wine”: may God help us to become wine-makers for others!
By Gerard Conlan, OMI