Mistaken Ownership

27th Sunday in Ordinary Time: October 8, 2017

 

The mother of a young child asks him to share his cookie

with a younger brother. “No!” is the reply, “It’s mine, all mine.”

 

A young woman pays off her final car payment. “Now,”

she says, "finally it’s mine. All mine.”

 

A football player is enshrined into the Hall of Fame. His accomplishments and statistics are etched in stone and bronze, next to his statue. He rises to the podium to accept his award and says with a smile, “This just shows what a kid can do if he will just work hard and give it all he’s got. No one’s going to

give you anything; you have to earn your way to the top.”

A man looks at his financial portfolio. He finally reached his goal so now he doesn’t have to worry about money in

the future. “I did it. It’s mine, earned and saved the old fashioned way, by the work and sweat of my own brow.”

 

What do these four people have in common? The answer is: “Mistaken ownership.” The child forgot that only moments before he was asked to share his cookie, his mother gave him the cookie in the first place. The young woman who paid off her car forgot that it was her father who co-signed the loan and who put money into her college bank account throughout her college years. The football player forgot the linemen who blocked for him while he ran for touchdowns. Plus all the others who taught him and supported him as he learned the game. And the man with financial success has forgotten he did not get to this point by himself. He forgot about the blessing of parents who guided him, who paid for college and graduate school. He forgot about his wife who stood by him in the early and

lean years of hit and miss.

 

It’s mine, all mine! These are the words of people who make the mistake of thinking that possession is equivalent

to ownership. That is called “mistaken ownership”. Here is the real truth: WE own nothing. The real owner is God— always has been, always will be. We are all just caretakers, tenants, stewards for the real owner. Do we have work 

to do in this stewardship? We sure do. But our hard work does not make us owners, it simply fulfills our role of

service to the owner. We are not self-made. We are all created by God. And there are plenty of folks who had to

do their part, alongside of us, for us to accomplish anything in life. We are all interdependent on others, who like us,

are just doing their part in the Master’s field.

 

Sometimes things happen that are beyond our control, like the weather or other wayward tenants. Sometimes hurricanes happen that cause great damage, like in Houston, Florida, Cuba, and Puerto Rico. Sometimes other tenants become deranged and think they have the right to kill fellow tenants and break the hearts of so many

people, like in Las Vegas. When things like that happen, remember, we are the tenants, we are the caretakers,

it is our job to fix and heal what is broken as best we can.

 

But remember, it is the Master’s field, it is God’s world. All that we have belongs to God. God has loaned it to us

and someday God will want it back in better shape than it was when we got it. Naked we came into this world and naked we will go out.

 

And that’s the message of the scriptures today, especially the Gospel and the first reading. We are workers in

God’s vineyard, the tenants called by God to do our best, but we are not the owners. Sometimes the tenants

forget who they are, and who God is. They fall into the sin of “mistaken ownership”.

 

In conclusion, we own nothing. All that we are and all that we have is on loan to us by God. God did not create

us so that we could wallow in selfishness and pride, play around for a while, have fun, and then die. No, God

created us for a purpose, to be selfless, to make a contribution, to give back to God what God entrusted to us.

Amen.

Fr. Terry Hazel

Sunday Readings

Isaiah 5:1–7

The vineyard of the Lord of hosts is the house of Israel.

 

Philippians 4:6–9

By prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, make your requests known to God.

 

Matthew 21:33–43

[Jesus said,] “The stone that the builders rejected has become the cornerstone.