Sunday, October 8, 2017

"You cannot command or compel people into holiness, you cannot increase their spiritual stature one cubit by any kind of force or compulsion. You can do it only by sharing your life with them, by making them feel your goodness, by your love and sacrifice for them."

“Stewardship is a decision of the will not a feeling, although good feelings often follow. We can’t wait for our attitudes regarding stewardship to change our behavior. By changing our behavior our attitudes will change to match the Gospel way of life.” - Bishop Emeritus Eugene J. Gerber: (served as the 8th bishop of the Catholic Diocese of Wichita from February 9, 1983 until his retirement on October 4, 2001.)

Gospel Text: (MT 21:33-43)
Jesus said to the chief priests and the elders of the people:
"Hear another parable.
There was a landowner who planted a vineyard,
put a hedge around it, dug a wine press in it, and built a tower.
Then he leased it to tenants and went on a journey.
When vintage time drew near,
he sent his servants to the tenants to obtain his produce.
But the tenants seized the servants and one they beat,
another they killed, and a third they stoned.
Again he sent other servants, more numerous than the first ones,
but they treated them in the same way.
Finally, he sent his son to them, thinking,
'They will respect my son.'
But when the tenants saw the son, they said to one another,
'This is the heir.
Come, let us kill him and acquire his inheritance.'
They seized him, threw him out of the vineyard, and killed him.
What will the owner of the vineyard do to those tenants when he comes?"
They answered him,
"He will put those wretched men to a wretched death
and lease his vineyard to other tenants
who will give him the produce at the proper times."
Jesus said to them, "Did you never read in the Scriptures:
The stone that the builders rejected
has become the cornerstone;
by the Lord has this been done,
and it is wonderful in our eyes?

Therefore, I say to you,
the kingdom of God will be taken away from you
and given to a people that will produce its fruit."

 "What more was there to do that I have not done for my vineyard?" (Is 5: 1 – 7) was the lament of the vineyard owner in today's first reading from Mass today. Despite all the efforts and care, his vineyard yielded only sour grapes.

The same lament is heard from the landowner not because his vineyard had no good harvest but because the tenants not only refused to give him his rightful share of the harvest but even manhandled and killed his emissaries, including his son. "Now, what will the owner of the vineyard do with the tenants when he comes? They said to him, 'He will bring those evil men to an evil end, and lease the vineyard to other who will pay him in due time."'

We can imagine God the Creator with the same lament when he looks at the world he has created. Despite all his love and generosity, so many have rejected him and his goodness. "What more could I have done?"

God chose and cared for his people Israel. So many times they simply turned their backs on God. God sent us his only Begotten Son, incarnate of the Virgin Mary. He was rejected and crucified. "What more could I have done?"

The same is true in our individual lives. How often has each one of us turned his/her back to God? How has each one of us appreciated and made use of the many gifts from God? God can ask of each one of us, "What more could I have done?" We are blessed with a God, a Father, who is ever patient and ever merciful and forgiving. He has done all he can to reach out to us, to save us, to love us.

How have we responded? What have we done? What should we do? How can we better respond to a generous and forgiving God and Father?

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