DO THE WORK! 26th Sunday, Year A
From time to time we need to consider carefully what we have said yes to in our life, and how well our yes has found its way into our thoughts, feelings, attitudes, and actions of our life. In Jesus’ parable about the two sons, one said yes to working in his father’s vineyard, but never went and worked. The other said no, later changed his mind, and did go into the vineyard to work.
It’s not enough to say yes and even go near the vineyards we are called to. Once we are in a certain vineyard, we have to do the work of that vineyard if we are to do God’s will and be fruitful. Many don’t want to go against the Lord’s call but are reluctant to embrace the sacrifice and work of the call.
Many want to be members of the Church, baptized and confirmed, but don’t want to do what being a member demands. Many want to know the Lord but don’t want to pray, learn the faith teachings, and study the scriptures. Many want to be freed of sin and guilt, but don’t want to confess their serious sins in the Sacrament of Penance. Many want to be alive in Christ but don’t observe the Lord’s day. Many want to be good and virtuous, but don’t want to develop the habits of virtue that prevent habits and vices of sin. Many want to be married and parents, but don’t want to do the hard work a good marriage requires and the hard work of parenting.
Some see the toughness of the work of the vineyard, of living up to the Gospel, and out of a sense of fear and understanding of what is involved say: “I will not go. I’m not ready to do this or to live that kind of life. I couldn’t be faithful to what is demanded.”
Many say what St. Augustine said years before his complete conversion. “Tomorrow Lord, not today!” Many say in effect: “I want to try the life of sin first. I want to have what the world offers first, I’ll come back to living the life of faith when it’s easier. God can wait. Heaven can wait. The Church can wait. I can’t make all the sacrifices now. I’ll have time to repent and escape hell before it’s too late. I’ll return to the Church and even work to build the Church.”
The Lord calls people after a period of living outside the vineyard, that is outside of God’s will and law, or experiencing what the world has to offer, and a certain emptiness, despair and lack of life sets in for some. They begin to realize that what sin and the world offers doesn’t always produce what it promises, even though it may seem easier and “freer” for a time. When a number of factors come together, they decide to go into God’s vineyard and do the work of living as a follower of Christ and a member of His Body the Church.
With any of our major commitments and yesses we make to the Lord, there goes along with it a whole series of little yesses in the day to day living of the call.
People can be in their vineyards, but avoiding the work and tasks, becoming or being complacent, lazy, going to work but not working, following Jesus without being self-giving or struggling against sin, and keeping the commandments, and doing the works of the kingdom.
God’s words spoken through Ezekiel are valid today. “When someone virtuous turns away from virtue to commit iniquity, and dies, it is because of the iniquity he committed that he must die…But if he turns from the wickedness he has committed, he does what is right and just, he will preserve his life.”
Our conversion is never complete, nor should our commitment to and doing the work of the Lord’s vineyard be. We do well to encourage one another as Paul says, to live the life of the vineyard. Encouragement is a work of the Spirit in the Lord’s vineyard. Paul calls it a debt. “In the name of the encouragement you owe me in Christ…possess the one love, united in spirit and ideals. Never act out of rivalry or conceit; rather…look to others’ interests rather than your own.” For some that means a radical change.
The ancient Christian hymn of Christ’s life gives the example of how we are to live in God’s vineyard in the midst of obstacles, setbacks, and the actual work of the vineyard which is always before us. “He emptied Himself…humbled Himself, obediently accepting even death, death on a cross.”
Do the work of the vineyard the Lord sends you to!