September 20, 2020
Jesus draws us in union with Him and the dignity and vocation of the human person is rooted in this union with Christ. It is the direction and reason for our life, and nobody or circumstance can separate us from the love of our Lord.
- God wants to transform the whole world into His Kingdom through the special role of the lay vocation to bring the gospel to ALL places.
- By the power of His grace, the Lord is calling us to be a fruitful worker in His vineyard.
- By remaining united with Jesus, the branch of the vine, we become fruitful workers like St. Paul who was transformed by his loving, faithful trust in Jesus.
- Paul desired to be with Christ and referred to death as a gain for those who seek union with Christ.
- Go to Mass, receive communion, trust in God and respond with “YES” to do His will.
St. Paul teaches us that Jesus wants us to work in His vineyard, to transform the world. We spend our time well by sharing the Gospel with family, work, neighbors, different organizations and through social media.
St. Paul said, “For me, life is Christ and death is a gain.” His focus made him more effective for the work in the Lord’s vineyard. Jesus is calling us to union with Him through Holy Communion and with Him and we can transform His vineyard.
Matthew 20 1-16 -“You too, go to work in My vineyard.” – Who is the you in this Gospel – the vineyard of the Lord represents the Kingdom – this whole world He wants to transform into His Kingdom – the you He is talking to is each one of us –the work is immense and each one of us has a special role in it – He wants to mobilize all of us for His work – St. John Paul wrote a helpful document on the role of the laity – He took precisely this parable as the center of his reflection – the lay vocation is to transform the world – to bring the Gospel to all of the places God has placed you – to your family, work, neighborhoods, all the different organizations, online contacts – social media and so forth – lay people bring the Gospel to transform the world – St. John Paul interpreted the parable as many saints did – the different times during the day, when people heard the call represents the different stages of a person’s life – the ones who heard the call early in the morning represents those who hear God’s call as a little child – some later on as a teenager – some later in their life – what this Gospel says…is even those who hear the call later in life can receive a very generous reward – point is the Lord is calling you to work in His vineyard – so how can you be a fruitful worker? – we only have one life…how can we spend that time well? – we have today in the second reading Philippians 1:20-24, 27 a great example of St. Paul – he is writing this in prison and doesn’t know whether he will be released or condemned – this was probably a year or two before his death – there is a question here in St. Paul’s passage – if someone had asked you, what is your life about – what would be your natural response – some may say my family and marriage – some may say it is their work that inspires them – some may be focused on their health – some people are living for money or fame – some people don’t know why they are living 😉 what is St. Paul saying? – in the reading today he says, “for me life is Christ” – a very simple, strong, clear response – that is like the secret to St. Paul’s fruitfulness – he is living his life with a lot of serious dangers and challenges – he isn’t someone who is fleeing reality – he is very engaged and involved helping people and communities – stay together survive and grow – St. Paul has been most effective workers in the vineyard of the Lord throughout all of History – his focus on Jesus made him more effective – St. John Paul when reflecting on the vocations of the laity, he takes this passage of Jesus, “ I am the vine, you are the branches. He who remains in me bears much fruit, because without Me, you can do nothing.” – the secret for bearing fruit is very simple, it is remaining united to Jesus- the branch to the vine – simple but essential – Jesus’ whole life was lived in sacrifice for you – that was His goal, to draw you in union with Him – St. John Paul on the dignity of women- he says the dignity and vocation of the human person is rooted in union with Jesus- that is the reason for our life – union with Jesus – that gives a very simple clear direction for our life – does something unite me with Jesus or does it separate me from Jesus – that is how we can discern – puts everything in a different light- because of this St. Paul does not flee from life, but he is not grasping it – he says if I go on living in the flesh, that means fruitful labor for me – he is willing to go on living, but he is also ready to leave – that leads us to the great question of death – the loss of human life – the loss of everything – St. Paul says life is Christ, death is a gain – death is a gain for those seeking union with Jesus – He says my desire is to depart and be with Christ – that is much better – there is physical death and there is all the other kinds of little death or big deaths – all the sacrifices you have to make in your life – sometimes voluntarily or sometimes because they are taken away from us – St. Paul had a lot of privileges in society – he counts all of that as loss – because of surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord – what he is talking about is not a head knowing – it is a union knowing – because of a loving union – he counts death as a gain, but the things he would have counted as a gain before, he now counts as losses – his whole life is united and guided by his desire to be united with Jesus – what about all of the bad things that can happen in life?- our possessions can be taken away – our health can be lost – even our life can be lost – St. Paul says in the letter to the Romans, “ Who shall separate us from the love of Christ?” – the union with Jesus is something no body and no circumstance can take away – He says, “ Shall tribulation or distress or persecution or famine or nakedness or peril or the sword, violence. No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us. For I am sure that neither death nor life nor angels nor principalities nor things present nor things to come nor powers nor height nor death nor anything else in all creation will be able to separate us from the love of God and Christ Jesus our Lord.” – it can separate us from our possessions, reputation, health, relationships, from life, but it cannot separate us from the love God and Christ Jesus our Lord – he doesn’t say it is easy – it gives us a clear, strong guide for our life – “ For me life is Christ and death is a gain” – Jesus is calling you to the work in His vineyard to transform the world by the power of His grace – that call is above all a union with Him- it is by union with Jesus can be transforming – like the vine and branches – all the branch has to do is stay united to the vine and the sap will flow and give fruit – but if the branch separates itself from the vine, it dries up – that happens a lot – we have all of our ideas that we want to do, but we separate from the vine – so our spiritual grace our sap dries up – we don’t need to be the greatest, the most spiritual, the most intelligent, we just need to hold on to Jesus – Union with Jesus – Loving Jesus – Faith in Jesus – what does Mass lead us to? – to Holy Communion, to union with Jesus – the Mass is always leading us, strengthening us in Holy Communion in union with Jesus – the Mass is not Holy Communion with just some spirit ,- it is always with Jesus – Jesus is calling us to Him in Holy Communion in union with Him and we can transform this vineyard – His vineyard – with Mary in this Mass now in this Mass is an opportunity to hear in our soul a call of Jesus, “ You too go to work in My vineyard!” – respond to Him, “ I am weak, I am a sinner, I struggle , I fall a lot, but my trust is not in me, my trust is in You. If you are calling, that is the sign that despite all of my weaknesses and sins. Your grace, Your mercy is powerful and so with my trust in You, I respond Yes, here I am Lord, I come to do Your Will.