On Your Mark, Get Set, Go to Work!
"Son, go out and work in the vineyard today" (Matthew 21:28), says a man to his son in Jesus' parable to the chief priests and elders. Three things from this statement of Jesus are worth our reflection today. First, he says, "go." The word from Jesus is a command, not an appeal or suggestion. If the Lord says the active word, get going, our only response is just to do it! Go!! There is no room for procrastination or dilly-dallying. When we hear the Lord's command either from his still tiny voice in our conscience or when we hear directly from his Sacred Word, let's act on his instruction because it must be for our good that he urges us on. It is "the same attitude that is also in Christ Jesus" (Philippians 2:5) who did the Father's will immediately and with humility.
Second, Jesus says to go out to "work." Jesus calls us to work out our salvation by surrendering our wills to his Father’s Will. Yes, we cannot obtain our redemption or live a life of holiness on account of our work alone, but as St. Augustine affirms, "God cannot save us without us." God needs our cooperation to work with him in saving us and helping us to live a life of virtue. Third, Jesus sends us to go out into his vineyard to work. The vineyard is the world, our church inclusive. There are a place and a context where we go to work, with family and friends, in the neighborhood and social media. We are in the world to make it a better place by making sure we bring the grace of the Gospel and message of the Kingdom to everyone we meet, the good and the bad alike, to virtuous and wayward people.
Many people in our parish frequently respond to Jesus’ command to go out and work in God’s vineyard. I think of groups like St. Vincent de Paul, served by Andy Gladfelter, Men’s Club led by Mike Minnick, RCIA and Religious Education catechists led by Vicky Kern and Georgann Azzalina respectively, Liturgy support team (cantor/musician Corinne, lectors, sacristan Sandy, John Gulya’s led ushers, Knights of Columbus, Dr. Martin and Michael Checco-led TMIY Saturday morning men’s faith-growth meetings, and so forth.
It was the 20th anniversary of my ordination to the priesthood of Christ on September 23, 2020. I want to thank all who came to celebrate with me at our daily parish mass and all the prayers and cards, and especially the surprise celebratory signage, balloons, and cake by parish office staff. All of you are a big part of what keeps me going out daily to work in God’s vineyard (not just the Starbucks coffee! ).
Enjoy the transition from summer into autumn, my favorite season! ( I can’t wait to go leaf-peeping in New England).
In Christ, our High Priest,
Fr. Bernard Oniwe, OP