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Payback, not kickback, time

Have you ever wondered why a male dog lifts one of its hind legs while urinating? According to a story I heard, a dog once urinated on a wall, and the wall collapsed. Lucky for him, he survived, and from that time on he told his fellow dogs to make sure that they protect themselves from any wall, post, or tree by lifting one of their hind legs while urinating.

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In today’s Gospel (Mt. 21, 33-43), Jesus tells us the parable of the tenants and the vineyard. There are the good tenants who give back to the landowner the produce of the land, and there are the bad tenants who not only steal from the landowner but even kill him. We are all tenants in this life. Are we tenants who are aware of payback time, or are we tenants just having a good time?

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The dog in our story received the blessing of a new lease on life, and went on to share his blessing with other dogs. Payback time! There are many people who have been so blessed, or who have overcome misfortunes, and yet do not know how to pay back the Lord, the source of their wealth, health, and blessings. Admirable are those people who know that blessings in life are meant, not to be kept, but to be shared. If God has blessed you, then be a blessing to others, too.

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Whenever people tell me how blessed they are, and go on and on and on to recite a litany of their blessings, I listen patiently. But after some time, I interrupt them and remind them that blessings are meant to be shared and spread, not to be kept to themselves, and, definitely, not to be proudly aired for everyone to hear and be envious about.

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What is the opposite of payback time?

Kickback time! Those who are busy stealing, cheating, and manipulating still have a long way to go in their journey to God’s heart. They know that dirty money is smelly, so they sanitize it with token donations here and there, but in their hearts they know their faults, and they constantly live in fear that sooner or later, they will be exposed.

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Let us not envy those who prosper through evil ways. Let not the evil one make us lose heart in our resolve to live good and honest lives. Yes, stay good and beautiful. In the long run, we will realize that there is no substitute for hard and honest work, and that it pays to be good now and in the end.

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Over and above what people say about us is what God says about us. Beyond public opinion is God’s approval or condemnation. When the Great Landlord makes the final accounting, may we not be found lacking and wanting.

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Have you noticed how many of the daily news reports are stories about thievery and corruption? These reports have become a part of our national breakfast, lunch, and dinner, and are all about money, money, money. It seems that kickback time has become the national pastime!

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Payback time is all about gratitude and respect. Gratitude is the acceptance that, more than producers, we are recipients of so many blessings. Respect is the acceptance that there are people, things, institutions, and traditions greater than ourselves. May we learn to be grateful and respectful persons. Kickback time is all about ingratitude and disrespect.

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Speaking of payback time, I can’t help but admire people who have deep respect and love for their parents. Composer Jose Mari Chan has inspired many of us with his songs and music through the years, but what inspires me most about him is his deep love for and devotion to his parents, now especially his 90-year-old mother.

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We are sons and daughters of our motherland. May we all become grateful and respectful sons and daughters of our motherland. Let us be vigilant and protect her from those that harm and disrespect her.

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The month of October is the month of the Holy Rosary. I am grateful to Mama who taught my siblings and me when we were children to always carry a rosary in our pocket. After all these 61 years, I still do. It may be a little thing, but it has been a big help in my journey. Little things mean a lot. Those who belittle the rosary now will someday go back to it and realize that, indeed, little things do mean a lot. Please don’t wait for the time when you are sick and disabled, or lonely and out of work, before you do that.

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A moment with the Lord:

Lord, remind me that true life is not just about having a good time, and definitely not about kickback time but about payback time. Amen.

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TAGS: Catholic Church, Fr. Jerry M. Orbos, Gospel, Jesus, Matthew, Moments, opinion, Parable of the Vineyard, Religion, SVD
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