Monday, August 28, 2017

Jesus, the Master Story-Teller

Of all the parables of Jesus, I find the parable of the laborers in the vineyard particularly intriguing and thought-provoking. The story never fails to elicit strong reactions from its listeners that include disbelief, protest, or even outright anger. But once properly understood, its reward for those who care to really listen is the consolation of a big “Aha” moment and the priceless satisfaction of seeing the truth more clearly.

A skillful story-teller that Jesus is, he knows just what to say to break the apathy of the human mind so that it’s back into focus and ready for wisdom. To do so sometimes he may say something that seems to defy all logic and generally accepted norms, as is the case in this Sunday’s gospel. How can it be fair for the landowner to pay all laborers in the vineyard the same usual daily wage regardless of how many hours they have worked? People wonder aloud. When they realize that the landowner in the parable refers to God, it triggers in them even more discomfort and resentment: Isn’t God just and righteous? Why does He act like a tyrant who does whatever He pleases? The progression from bewilderment to resentment and then to strong protest can come in quick successions.

The key to understanding this parable is to see the “usual daily wage” not as a monetary compensation for work done, but as God’s grace freely given to save first the people of Israel and later the Gentiles. The fact that God’s saving grace is extended equally to both Israel, who took part in God’s plan of salvation first, and the late-coming Gentiles suggests not unfairness on God’s part, but His generosity and mercy. (Ref: Ignatius Catholic Study Bible commentary on this parable.)

The concept that proves so difficult to grasp for so many people is that God’s grace, i.e. the “usual daily wage” in the parable, is something that cannot be earned. Contrary to human understanding, which is often blinded by our earthly way of life, the kingdom of heaven - the subject matter of this parable - is not a “market place”. Unlike this world, which, due to human limitations, is dominated by consumerism and the principle of buying and selling, the kingdom of heaven is powered by God’s grace alone, which, shocking as it may sound, is not for sale. Neither is grace something that can be bought or earned by mere human efforts (cf. Fr. Richard Rohr, Things Hidden – Scripture as Spirituality, 2008, p. 160).

Now that we know better what grace is, we would appreciate more what the prophet Isaiah said when he proclaimed the magnificent gifts that God would lavish on His people: “All you who are thirsty, come to the water! You who have no money, come, receive grain and eat; come, without paying and without cost, drink wine and milk!” (Is. 55:1)

Shocking, isn’t it? Don’t know about you, but to me the parable is more like a shock therapy for resuscitating our hearts which are totally numb, or a powerful stimulant for rejuvenating our brains which are all but dead. No, I’m not talking about drugs. I’m talking about Jesus, the master story-teller, who knows exactly what to say to revive us from apparent death.

Friday, August 11, 2017



聚會日期: 由今年九月廿二日起至下年六月九日止
聚會時間: 每月第四個星期五晚上7:45至10:00
聚會地點: 中華殉道聖人堂土庫。用粵語進行。
領航員: Edmond Lo, 神學碩士、慕道班導師、講者
講義費: 每位$10
報名: 請往堂區詢問處登記。
聯絡人: Louisa Lam

Sunday, August 6, 2017

ANNOUNCEMENT: Fountain of Love and Life Spiritual Formation Program 2017-2018

Hope everyone is enjoying the nice summery weather while it is here! With the temperatures trending down and the green foliage of summer shedding its luster ever so slightly, summer is quietly slipping out the back door like a guest too embarrassed to announce his departure. This means a new school year for our children is about to begin. Here at Fountain of Love and Life (FLL), it’s also time for us to gear up for a new year of spiritual formation.

The FLL Spiritual Formation Program (FLL SFP) meets on the second Monday of every month from September to June. Our meeting takes place in the FLL studio from 8:00 to 10 p.m.. Hosted by Edmond Lo (MTS, speaker and RCIA catechist), the program’s objective is to provide the FLL volunteers, staff members, and supporters with an opportunity for spiritual enrichment and fellowship. Using DVDs produced by renowned Catholic speakers and scholars, it helps the participants to acquire a better understanding of the Catholic faith and appreciate more the riches of the tradition of the Catholic Church.

After taking a brief, 2-month summer break, the program is scheduled to resume on Monday, September 11, 2017. For 2017-2018, the focus of our attention will shift from Symbolon – the DVD series that we studied in the last two years - to Bishop Robert Barron’s exciting and brand-new DVD series – The Pivotal Players. Four pivotal players of the Church have been selected for our study this year, namely, Blessed John Henry Newman (The Convert), St. Catherine of Siena (The Mystic), Michelangelo (The Artist), and St. Thomas Aquinas (The Theologian). In addition, two of the Symbolon episodes that remain unviewed, namely, “Building a Civilization of Love”, and “Protecting the Dignity of the Human Person”, have also been included in this year’s program.

Please take a moment to read the time schedule of the 2017-2018 program copied below this announcement. We invite you to mark the meeting dates in your calendar and do your best to join us. If you cannot commit to attending every month, you are welcome to attend only the topics that are of interest to you. As usual, we will send you a reminder before every meeting.

We would also like to welcome back our beloved brothers and sisters of the Vancouver Chapter who joined us through tele-conferencing last year. Kindly pass along the information to those who may not be on our list.

“The presence of Christ is embodied in the lives of real people” (Bishop R. Barron, The Pivotal Players Study Guide). Together with Bishop Barron, let’s meet these distinguished men and women of the Church who have not only shaped the life of the Church but changed the course of civilization. Let’s pray that their lives, which truly exemplify the meaning of holiness, will inspire us to accept the universal call to holiness.

Fountain of Love and Life
Spiritual Formation Program
2017-2018 Schedule

Mon, Sept 11, 2017 - Pivotal Players - Blessed John Henry Newman (The Convert), Part I: Anglican and Catholic Times
Mon, Oct 16, 2017 - Pivotal Players - Blessed John Henry Newman (The Convert), Part II: Major Works
Mon, Nov 13, 2017 - Symbolon - Catholic Social Teaching: Building a Civilization of Love
Mon, Dec 11, 2017 - Pivotal Players – St. Catherine of Siena (The Mystic), Part I: Her Life
Mon, Jan 8, 2018 - Pivotal Players – St. Catherine of Siena (The Mystic), Part II: Her Theology, Visions and Ecstasies
Mon, Feb 12, 2018 - Symbolon – Catholic Social Teaching: Protecting the Dignity of the Human Person
Mon, Mar 12, 2018 - Pivotal Players – Michelangelo (The Artist), Part I: Life and Times
Mon, Apr 9, 2018 - Pivotal Players – Michelangelo (The Artist), Part II: The Sistine Chapel
Mon, May 7, 2018 - Pivotal Players – St. Thomas Aquinas (The Theologian), Part I: Life and Times
Mon, Jun 11, 2018 - Pivotal Players – St. Thomas Aquinas (The Theologian), Part II: His Theology