We have heard of this term “monkey business”. Obviously it means that it is not anything serious. Rather it means doing something silly or stupid or foolish.
But that does not mean that monkeys are silly or stupid or foolish.
Monkey business can be serious business. At least when it comes to one monkey at Segar Road in Bukit Panjang.
That monkey made some news two weeks ago. That monkey had terrorized residents by going into their homes to get food and bitten seven residents. Video footage of it showed that it can even crawl on the walls of high-rise HDB flats to get into the homes.
It had eluded capture many times, but two weeks ago, they managed to shoot it with a tranquilizer dart and it ended up in the net.
But the on-going debate is whether the monkey encroached on the humans’ space or is it that the humans encroached on the monkey’s space.
That’s because the HDB flats are just next to the natural reserve.
The issue is that while some people think that the monkey has encroached into the humans’ space and did harm and damage, others think that it is the humans who have encroached into the monkey’s natural habitat.
So, essentially the issue is about the question of space.
Whose space is being encroached upon? And it is not just between man and monkey.
Between nations and nations, between communities and communities, between groups and groups, between persons and persons, there will be tensions when space is being encroached upon, tensions arise when another’s space is intruded upon.
And that was the issue in the 1st reading. In the daily distributions, the Hellenist widows were being overlooked and so a complaint was made against the Hebrews.
In other words, one group got space but another group did not, although they were entitled to it. And hence the tension arose.
And seven men of good reputation, filled with the Holy Spirit and with wisdom, had to be appointed to look into the matter.
More than just about the distribution of food, they had to ensure that each group had their own space and that it is respected, so that there can be peace and harmony in the community.
But the issue is more than just having our own space. It also deals with the question of our place in the community, our place in our society and our place in our country.
We want to have a place on earth so that we know what we are standing on and where we are standing on, what belongs to us and what is rightfully ours.
So when our place and our space is encroached upon or intruded upon, whether by man or by monkey, we will get defensive and protective over what is ours.
The problem comes in when we want to expand our space.
Inevitably, we will encroach and intrude into other people’s space.
And that’s when tensions and problems arise.
That’s nothing new actually. That’s how quarrels and fights and wars begin isn’t it?
And here, Jesus has something important to tell us in the gospel:
Do not let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God still and trust in me. There are many rooms in my Father’s house; if there were not, I should have told you. I am now going to prepare a place for you, and after I have gone and prepared you a place, I shall return to take you with me; so that where I am you may be too.
Jesus is telling us, He is promising us, that we will have a place in the other world, He had already prepared a place for us in heaven.
But in our desire for our personal space, we want to have a permanent place on earth, and we forget about our eternal place in heaven.
Yesterday, the 13th May, is the centennial of the apparition of Our Lady at Fatima. Yes, it has been a hundred years already, since the first apparition in 1917.
The message at Fatima is the call to prayer and penance for the conversion and salvation of the world.
Connected to that message is the reality of hell, and the three children were given a vision of hell and the souls that were lost to the devil.
Yes, the devil wants to tempt us to think that our space and our place in this world is all that we have. And hence we begin to focus on increasing our space and reinforcing our place.
And we do that by desiring to increase our wealth and whatever material gains.
And slowly we will forget about our eternal place in heaven that Jesus had promised and prepared for us.
So we need to heed the message at Fatima and the call to prayer and to go back to penance in order to resist the subtle temptations of the devil.
Prayer and penance also helps us to let go of the things of earth and to focus on the things of above.
It has been a hundred years since Jesus called out to us through Our Lady’s apparition at Fatima.
Let us not take another hundred years to heed that message.
We don’t want to lose our place in eternity.