Celebrating the Twenty-Sixth Sunday in Ordinary Time
This Sunday's Gospel is from St. Matthew 21:28-32.
This parable was primarily intended to show up the hypocrisy of the chief priests and elders of the Jews, and the perilous position in which they stood in relation to God and heaven. It is, however, a warning against hypocrisy for all time. Lip service of God will not merit heaven. Nominal Christians are not working in the Lord's vineyard. At any moment they may be called from this life, and what defense can they offer the just judge? Will they dare to offer the flimsy excuses with which they try to silence their consciences now: "we didn't realize how sinful we were"; "we were too occupied with family and personal cares to have time for our spiritual duties"; "we were led astray by bad example"; "we didn't like to be different from others"; "we were going to put things right"? Who will dare to offer such excuses at the judgment seat? Their utter futility will then be apparent in all its nakedness.
However, we are still on earth, and while we are the door of God's mercy is wide open to us. If in the past we said, "I will not go into your vineyard", we still have time to reverse that sinful decision. Not only can we with God's grace turn over a new leaf, but we can completely wipe out the sinful pages of our life's story written up to now. Remember that what God in His mercy did for the tax-collectors and harlots in the parable, the Matthews, the Mary Magdalenes, the Augustines, the Margarets of Cortona, the Matt Talbots and the millions of unknown penitents who are now saints in heaven He can also do for you.
We answered the call to God's vineyard by accepting baptism and membership of His Church. If we have grown lax in our fervor and refused to do the tasks allotted to us, we still have time, thanks to God's mercy and patience, to put things right. Today, look into your conscience and see how much of your past life you have given to God and how much you have kept for yourself. If you were called tonight to render an account to the Lord, would the balance sheet be in your favor? Is your corner of the vineyard producing abundant crops, or is it perhaps filling up with weeds, briers and brambles? If the latter, then we will say a heartfelt "Thank you, God, for not calling us to judgment today. We will begin right now to understand our sinful past, so that our corner of your vineyard will be in good order when you do call us. Thank you, Lord, for your mercy. God grant that we shall never abuse it."
O God, who manifest your almighty power above all by pardoning and showing mercy, bestow, we pray, your grace abundantly upon us and make those hastening to attain your promises heirs to the treasures of heaven.