Sunday, September 21, 2014

Are you doing your job for the Lord? (Sunday homily)

Who are the workers the Lord is sending into his vineyard? 
These people he goes out, hour after hour, to find?

They are you and me.

What is the work? The Lord has one purpose: to save humanity. 
Yet he chooses to enlist us as his collaborators.

This is how he created us. 
Recall what God said in Genesis: 
“Let us make man in our image, after our likeness.” 
Then he gives humanity, male and female, dominion over the earth. 
And he gave the man and woman an incredible gift and responsibility: 
they would participate directly in the continuation of creation: 
in bringing new human beings into existence!

Likewise, our baptism is about our sharing in Christ’s work.
We became part of Christ in baptism; we are part of his mission. 
We share in his dying and rising. We embrace the Cross.
We share in the work of salvation, and our hope is the resurrection.

You pay me a salary as your priest. 
Plus you provide me a home, and groceries. 
That plus my paycheck takes care of all my needs. Thank you!

Likewise, God provides our needs. Yes, we have to work for it. 
I have the privilege of working for the Lord, working for your salvation. 
Most of us have other bosses. 
They don’t pay us to spread the Gospel 
or to talk about our Lord or to invite people to share our Faith.

Nevertheless, it is God who pays us, 
because every good thing in this world comes from him. 
Look beyond the paycheck you receive. 
Did your family come from your employer? 
Your spouse? Your friends?

Did your company give you your parents? Your health? Your talents? 

And of course, the greatest “pay” we receive is Christ himself! 
And in that sense, everyone, whether working from the first hour, 
or arriving at the last, will be paid the same.

But there is a larger question. 
If God is the Master of the vineyard, and we are in his employ, 
are we giving him value for his wages?

If you are a parent, and you are making sure your children know Jesus, 
and learn how to love and serve him, 
that is your section of the vineyard. 
And when you cooperate with God 
in bringing another soul into existence, as is your unique privilege, 
you are helping to populate heaven! 

If we work for a more just society, 
for laws that protect the unborn from abortion, 
and all others from so-called “mercy killing”; 
when we work to oppose the death penalty; 
when we work to ensure dignity and real hope for those in poverty; 
when we defend the family as God designed it, 
by opposing laws reconstructing marriage…

In all these things, again, we are carrying out the Lord’s task.

What else is part of our work in the vineyard? 
I submit that prayer is part of our task. 
Not just praying for our own needs; 
but above all, devoting prayer to the needs of others.

There’s a lot of talk these days 
about the state of Christianity in this country, 
particularly the Catholic Church. 
A lot of concern – rightfully so – about parishes that aren’t growing, 
and for people who wander away from the Faith.

And, of course, there’s lots of discussion: what do we do about it?
And this is the context for all the talk about a “new evangelization.”

But there’s no secret formula for this.

We are workers in the vineyard. Are we working? 
That is, are we working for the Lord—the Master of the Vineyard?

If we are praying. If we are living our Faith. 
If we are sharing our Faith with others, especially our family. 
If we are practicing what we profess. 
If we are serious about growing in holiness.
If we go regularly to confession.
If we are doing our part to support the work of the Church,
and giving ourselves to the task…

Then that’s evangelization, whether you call it old or new. 

The other day, I thought to myself: 
what would we do if some Protestant minister came to town, 
and started a church around here. 
What would our reaction be?

Maybe we would laugh it off. 
That is, until we started seeing some of our own folks 
going to that church.

Then maybe we’d get irritated. Maybe we’d bad-mouth them.
Or maybe we’d look for some excuse or explanation.

It wouldn’t be long before someone would suggest 
that we’d get more people 
if Sunday Mass looked more like what these other folks do.

Well, sorry, but we’re never going to serve coffee in the pews 
during Holy Mass!

Then, finally, we might say, 
“How about we get serious about our Catholic Faith? 
Let’s get fired up! We can check in with people personally.
We can make sure we invite people to come pray with us!”

Of course, who says we have to wait to do any of these things?
After all, there may not be any competition here in Russia, 
but there are Protestant churches not that far away, 
where some of our folks already have gravitated.

Drawing others to Christ is our task. 
We are the Lord’s workers; he pays us very well. 
Are we doing our job?


Paul said...

I enjoy reading your posts. Thank you for taking the time to write them.
Paul Leddy
Pahokee, Florida

truthfinder2 said...

This one really made me consider whether I'm being the change I want to see. Thank you, Father! ~ Rosemary

Jim Dolan said...

I try to encourage others to come back to church. I always mention it to new people who shop in the store and invite them and tell them I would introduce them to the pastor.

I do know that todays Gospel is one I personally struggle with all the time.

I hope helping bring more people back to the church will help.

Jim Dolan said...

When I was sick the pastor and several other members of the congregation came to visit me to lift my spirits. Strange to think that could happen in a heartless place like NYC. If more people could experience the close knit community of a functioning parish it would certainly bring more people back.

Shouting Thomas said...

I'm doing my part, father.

Attendance at masses where I play and sing has almost doubled.

I do my best to set the right atmosphere and to encourage people to sing along.

My best gig! And the congregation is so appreciative.