Sr Hiam Boroi, a good shepherd nun was my class mate when I did my Spiritual Director training in the Heart Spirituality Centre in Melbourne. Before she came to do the training, she worked for years in some parts of Middle-Eastern countries during war time. We can imagine that living and working in the middle of a war, we would indeed face some difficulties and we could even lose our life as well. While doing the course, she was staying with her community. She found the facilities were entirely luxurious and yet she continuously heard complaints from a couple of sisters who were not happy with things in the house such as not enough butter, cheese, bread and poor air conditioning during summer. For Sr Hiam, having a three course meal every day was like living in a king’s palace.
I was a missionary in Kiribati Islands a few years ago. Once a month I went to an island to say mass. The whole island would come to attend the mass. They were so happy to have a mass even only once a month. There were no complaints at all. It was contrary to the story of my priest friend who works in a parish in Australia together with two other priests from overseas. Instead of appreciating what the priests do in the parish; some parishioners always have something to complain about the priests. A lady parishioner came one day to say to the parish priest: “We have to pray hard”. The priest asked: “why?” The lady said: “We have to pray for more white priests. I hardly understand those two other priests”. The parish priest was so angry and said: “You should be grateful to have a priest saying mass to you. In some other parts of the world, people do not have mass for months even years”.
The gospel today tells us about Jesus who asked the Jews to stop complaining. They should open their eyes to the presence of God in Jesus. Jesus is asking us to have a positive attitude. There is a woman who always develops a very positive attitude towards things. She says:
“Lord, thank you for this sink of dirty dishes, we have plenty of food to eat. Thank you for this pile of dirty laundry, we have plenty of nice clothes to wear. And I would like to thank you, Lord, for those unmade beds. They were so warm and so comfortable last night. I know that many have no bed. My thanks to you, Lord, for this bathroom, complete with all the splattered mirrors, soggy towels and dirty lavatory. They are so convenient. Thank you for this finger-smudged refrigerator that needs defrosting so badly, it has served us faithfully for many years. It is full of enough leftovers for a few meals. Thank you, Lord, for this oven that absolutely must be cleaned today. It has baked so many things over the years. Lord, the presence of all these chores awaiting me says you have richly blessed my family. I shall do them all cheerfully and I shall do them gratefully. (Author Unknown)”