Selling Onions

Posted in: Homilies

April 22, 2018 Click on the left end of the black bar to play/pause

April 22, 2018
John 10:11-18
Fr. George Smiga

There was a man who wanted to be happy. He thought to himself, “If I were rich, I would be happy.” One day he heard of a distant country in which onions were unknown. “Aha,” he said to himself, “If I could be the one to introduce onions into this country, I would make a fortune.” So he bought a large wagon and filled it full of onions. After a long and difficult journey he arrived at the distant land. He went at once to the king and said, “Your Majesty I would like to introduce to you a new vegetable, a vegetable that will change your kingdom. Everything you cook with it will taste better.” The king was intrigued and ordered that a dinner be prepared. When the king tasted the onions, their flavor exceeded his wildest imagination. He said to the man, “I will buy all of these onions from you, and I will pay you with their weight in gold.” So that day the man went home with his wagon filled with gold.

But then he thought to himself, “If I made this much money with onions, garlic is even more flavorful and more expensive. If I could introduce garlic to this distant country, I would come home with my wagon filled with diamonds!” So he went to the king a second time. When the king tasted the garlic, he agreed that its flavor was even more wonderful than the onions. He told the man,“ I will buy all the garlic that you have.” Then he met with his councilors to set the price. They all agreed that the flavor of the garlic made it more valuable than gold. So they decided to pay in the most precious commodity of their kingdom. And that day the man went home with his wagon filled with onions.

If we try to find happiness by becoming rich, our plans will betray us. This is why Jesus shows us another way in today’s gospel. In the gospel Jesus says that he is the shepherd and we are the sheep. Now what kind of a shepherd is Jesus? Five times in this gospel he tells us that he is willing to lay down his life for his sheep. Jesus is not focused on himself. He is focused on us. By his willingness to lay down his life he tells us that we will not find happiness by acquiring power, fame, or gold. We will find happiness when we give of ourselves to others. Now at first this sounds contradictory, that we would find happiness not by focusing on ourselves but by serving others. But Jesus assures us it is true. It can be difficult to be patient with your brothers and sisters who tease you or your children who do not listen to you. But when we find that patience, we will be happy. It can be a challenge to treat someone at school or at work who annoys us with respect. But when we give that respect we know we are doing what is right. It might require a great deal of strength to forgive someone who has hurt us or the people we love. But when we find that forgiveness we will also find Jesus’ joy.

Every day we make decisions that either focus on ourselves or focus on others. Today’s gospel asks us to make those decisions carefully, because they will determine our happiness and what belongs to us. The alternatives are dramatic. Because at the end, we will either have a group of people who we love and love us in return or we will have a wagon full of onions.

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