General

Compassion and generosity

Somehow, I have been receiving a lot of junk mail, many virus infected, and more and more friends have found it necessary to send me large files through the Internet, which take forever to download. So when a reputable service provider called up Rosita with a seemingly attractive package to install broadband at our home that could serve both our computers, we decided to sign up. That was about six weeks ago. A week later, a technician turned up as planned. After a quick inspection, he said that Rosita’s computer could not support broadband, but that mine could, albeit only just, and decided to go ahead. By the time he thought he had it up and running, I was home. I asked him like a student to show me how the system worked. He fiddled with the keyboard and the mouse in quick motion; he even called control center; but the computer went into a trance every time he said it should work. Well, he managed to have all my emails of the day downloaded in record time, but even I could figure out that the system was not working satisfactorily. He began to look for excuses. My computer had too much software and too little RAM, and the Sales Department should have checked beforehand, he concluded. I was not amused; and requested him to restore my computer to the state before it met him. He duly complied. End of Act One.

Act Two began with the Sales Department assuring Rosita that the company would dispatch a top-notch technician to configure her husband’s computer so that it could support broadband, but conceding that Rosita’s computer was somewhat inadequate for the purpose. It triggered off a decision to acquire a new and more powerful desktop to replace the one that Rosita has been using. Allowing lead-time for placing orders, delivery, data transfers and testing, we booked the broadband service provider to come again mid-September.

Meanwhile, I have been in and out of Hong Kong attending conferences and selling Hong Kong. The effect was that I did not clear my inbox for more than two weeks from end of August until broadband was installed, which led to Act Three. It began with me taking my two hard disks from home to my friend who would do data transfer and testing etc. My friend assured me that all my old files had been transferred to the new hard disk, but up to now I could only find them in my old one which is now being operated by Rosita. I have yet to re-establish or construct a filing system, but one thing is certain. We are now on broadband, and we have de-leased a landline.

I have written a few times on emails, and I have concluded that we have to live with them. On average, I receive about 200 messages every day, two-thirds in the office and the rest at home. I am now receiving more and more irrelevant and irreverent messages on my home computer, which begs the question of why I should bother to upgrade my home system at all. But never mind, I have done it anyway, and I am grateful to my friend for installing powerful virus scanning software into my system, which has reported that some one-fifth of the messages I received lately were virus infected. Some people must have been very busy.

Moving away from computers and emails, let me share with you the latest on how Rosita has been doing. In a word, she is fine. She now leads a rather active social life and is even busier than I at times. Last week, on doctor’s advice, she had the Hickman’s line removed, surgically. This was the set of tubings implanted into her heart in April 2001, which had prevented her from going away for more than a week at a time, because of the need for regular maintenance. Now that it is removed, she can plan for trips as long as one month, which is the period between consultation, and she is looking forward to that. Already, we have planned to be at the Manila Institute where we would meet up some good old friends.

Once again, we thank those of you who have been thinking of and praying for her. Although Rosita never joins a religion, she prays in her own way. She told me she was asked recently in hospital by a fellow patient whether she prayed. When she said she did, the other patient asked her to pray for her, She agreed, but she became somewhat embarrassed when the other side asked that she listened to her prayers. She got away by saying that she normally prayed in silence.

Well, don’t we always, most of us. Prayers can be very personal, except when they are done in public or in a ceremony. Prayers coming from the heart could be jarring, silent, unconventional, disorganized and meaningless to any other person except to the God to whom one prays. In today’s sermon taken from Matthews, we are once again reminded of the unfathomable compassion and generosity of God, which however is often and almost always misunderstood and misconstrued by Man.

This is the parable of the householder who sent for workers to work for a whole day on his vineyard at daybreak on a fixed wages, but when it became clear that more workers were needed, continued to bring in new labour at different times up to an hour before dusk. When it came to payment time, he asked the paymaster to pay the last comers first the same wages as the workers who came in at daybreak. When the first comers complained, the vineyard owner asked why he could not use his resources as he wished and whether there were unhappy because he was generous to others. Hence, the last will be the first, and the first last.

It follows that we should not worry what we get from our prayers, for at the end of the day we would get what God has willed for us, in His own infinite wisdom and infinite way, which is why some theologians have said that God is unjust, for if He were, Man should never get anything from Him.

Talk to you again soon.

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