THE BIG ROCK

A

n expert on the subject of time management was speaking to a group of business students and, to drive home a point, used an illustration those students will probably never forget.

He pulled out a one-gallon, wide-mouthed Mason jar and set it on a table in front of him. He said, "Okay, time for a quiz".

Then he produced about a dozen fist-sized rocks and carefully placed them, one at a time, into the jar. When the jar was filled to the top and no more rocks would fit inside, he asked, "Is this jar full?"

Everyone in the class said, "Yes."

Then he said, "Really?" He reached under the table and pulled out a bucket of gravel. Then he dumped some gravel in and shook the jar, causing pieces of gravel to work themselves down into the spaces between the big rocks. Then he smiled and asked the group once more, "Is the jar full?"

By this time the class was onto him. "Probably not," one of them answered.

"Good!" he replied. And he reached under the table and brought out a bucket of sand. He started dumping the sand in, and it went into all the spaces left between the rocks and the gravel. Once more he asked the question, "Is this jar full?"

"No!" the class shouted.

Once again he said, "Good!"

Then he grabbed a pitcher of water and began to pour it in until the jar was filled to the brim. Then he looked up at the class and asked, "What is the point of this illustration?"

One eager beaver raised his hand and said, "The point is, no matter how full your schedule is, if you try really hard, you can always fit some more things into it!"
"No," the speaker replied, "that's not the point. The truth this illustration teaches us is this:

If you don't put the big rocks in first, you'll never get them in at all.
(David E. Leininger, Collected Sermons,www.eSermons.com).

Human Priorities

Get the big rocks in first. What are the rocks for our life? Food? Money? Love? Or what?

To understand the motivational force of human development, Abraham Maslow has provided a schema of human hierarchy of needs. For Abraham Maslow, these needs are rocks for our life. All people have essentially the same basic needs which tend to be met in a hierarchical fashion. These are the rocks for human growth. They are built upon each other for human growth. Physical needs must be met in order for the individual to move on to meeting safety needs. When both physical and safety needs are satisfied, needs for acceptance arise and occupy the person’s attention. Once these are reasonably met, the person seeks to meet growing esteem needs etc.

  1. Physical needs: Food, water, shelter, sex, whatever is needed for survival.
  2. Safety needs: Security, stability, freedom from fear.
  3. Acceptance needs: Having love, friends, intimacy, feeling a part of other people’s lives.
  4. Esteem needs: Feeling important, useful, competent, and needed.
  5. Self-actualizing needs: Being able to reach one’s potential, developing one’s gifts, integration.
  6. Self-transcendence: The ability to move beyond one’s own needs to serve needs of others.

Maslow provided us these insights into human development. To grow up to our highest potential, we should not stay in any of the lower level. People should not allow themselves to be overwhelmed with concerns at one level of needs and neglect the others. If we just concentrate and work for physical needs alone and ignore other needs, we will be immature and selfish. A society that concentrates only on physical needs would disregard human dignity, disrespect human life and exploit others for their material gains. A person who concentrates on self-protection and security will sets up fences and gates to isolate from others, and to create laws to keep others away. A person concentrates only on building up his/her self-esteem can become brutal and rude, and will take advantage of others to achieve his/her goal.

Jesus provides us further insights to transcending life. To follow Christ is to help us to reach our highest potential.

"Follow me"

Lisa and Mark came to meet with me. Lisa, a devout Catholic, and Mark, a committed member of the Church of God, were in love. They had some religious disagreements and felt tension between them. Either one wanted to go further in their relationship. One issue was the baptism for infants in the Catholic Church. According to Mark, new-born babies do not have sins; so why should we baptize them at such an early age?

I explained to him that the primary reason for infants’ baptism is not to wash away their personal sins. They have no personal sins. The primary purpose of infants’ baptism is to wash them away from the stain of the original sin. This sin is inherited from Adam and Eve. The original sin is the sin of disobedience. Human beings are born with the inclination to reject, doubt, question and disobey, and stray from God, the Creator. This inclination keep them separated from God. At the first day of their lives, therefore, we want our children to belong to God, to accept God as their Creator. We want to claim our children for God. We want them to be able to call God “Father.” We want to teach our children to learn to say “Yes” to God right at the beginning of their lives.

Following the instruction of Christ to go into the world to proclaim the Good News and to baptize people. The Church believes that Baptism is the gateway to all other sacraments. Baptism is the big Rock installed in the lives of all Christians. This rock is the foundation for our Christian life. Christ invites us, “Follow Me!” We continue to grow and function in the world by faithfully following Christ. This response begins at our Baptism.    

The Gospel Objective

The Gospel has one objective. That objective is to follow Jesus Christ. We are followers of Christ. Ane true followers of Christ are happiest people in the world. They know who they are, and what they are for. They are children of God. And they are here for a mission. That mission is to continue the saving mission of Jesus Christ in the world. Christ has liberated us from sin and empowered us to love. St. Paul reminds us in the second reading that we need to use our freedom, not to serve the desires of the flesh, but to serve one another through love. Ultimately, following Christ will lead us to eternal happiness with God in heaven. There would be no other way to lead us to Heaven. Jesus is the only way. He is the way, the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Him (Jn 14:6). The people in the Samaritan village, however, did not want to welcome him. His teaching was so foreign to them. His way of life is so radical and conflicted to human experiences. Other people saw in Jesus the power and the attraction. They wanted to follow him, but there are other concerns keeping them from following him.

Jesus laid out conditions to follow him, “Foxes have dens and birds of the sky have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to rest his head” (Lk 9:58). Followers of Jesus Christ do not anchor down here on earth. Christian people are not building earthly dens or nests. Jesus’ disciples do not look for comfort and luxurious way of life in the world. We do not live to gratify the desire of the flesh. We live by the Spirit and continue to walk around to proclaim the Gospel to people in the world. This is not an easy task.

There are needs to be met. Once these needs are met, we need to move on. We should not stop at any one level of needs. We cannot afford to allow ourselves to only taking care of our physical needs or security needs, or self-esteem needs. We must leave behind unnecessary worries and concerns in order to follow Jesus. One man responded to Jesus’s invitation, “Let me go first and bury my father.” Jesus explicitly told him, “Let the dead bury their dead. But, you go and proclaim the kingdom of God.” To the other who said, “Let me say farewell to my family at home,” Jesus replied, “No one who sets a hand to the plow and looks to what was left behind is fit for the kingdom of God.” (Lk 9:59- 62).

It is important that we do not allow ourselves to be over concerned with any one need and forget our Christian calling. Our Christian calling from Baptism in Jeus Christ is the freedom from sin and the freedom to love. “For freedom Christ set us free; so stand firm and do not submit again to the yoke of slavery”(Galatians 5:1).

Rev. John Kha Tran