Sunday, October 2, 2011

Thorns in the Vineyard

“O Lord, God of hosts, restore us; if your face shine upon us, then we shall be saved.  (Psalm 80:20)”

God creates everything so beautifully.  We are vines in his beautiful vineyard where Christ is the true vine.  Unfortunately this vineyard sometimes has thorns scattered throughout that prohibit the vine from growing and producing fruit.

The Church, the new house of Israel, is that vineyard.  I see the beauty of the Church every day.   I see a Church that is strong, vibrant, and able to transform the world.  Yet, we ourselves sometimes try to tear down the vineyard as in today’s Gospel or we let others come into God’s vineyard to trample it by imposing the world’s will on us instead of us staying firmly rooted in Christ, the true vine.  The readings today are a cautionary tale of how a vineyard can be overrun both from within and from the outside.  As Catholics, we are besieged from all sides when it comes to our faith and morals, and there are times when we join the crowds and are lured by the voices of the world because it is easier to fold and compromise our values than to cause conflict.  This causes us to be cut off from the vineyard and at the same time cause harm to it.

Let’s not mince words.  As Catholics, we can sometimes be wimps.  We don’t stand up for our faith and values as we should.  This Respect Life Sunday should serve as a wake up call for us because the Gospel of Life is being assaulted on all sides.  Yes, I always preach on how little we are doing, outside of the good people in the Respect Life offices, to stop the genocide of abortion in this country.  But how many of us are standing up to the plague of executions occurring across our nation?  How many of us are standing firmly for the sanctity of marriage between a man and a woman?  Do you know that some of our children in our Catholic school think that marriage should be between whomever?  Why do they think this? Because it’s become acceptable in television and pop culture.  They can’t tell the difference.  Did you also know that our government is drafting language that would basically label those who defend traditional marriage as racists and bigots?  The Archbishop just told his priests as we met this week that we must be prepared to confront this challenge.  He alluded to a priest in Canada who was arrested for denouncing same sex marriagesand abortion from the pulpit.  In other words, what I am doing right now.  If that’s the direction that we’re going in then lock me up now and throw away the key because this priest will never cease to preach the TRUTH that has been passed on to us from Christ for 2000 years.

As Catholics, we cannot compromise our values, Christ’s values, to accommodate the world.  We cannot fold when faced with a raging stream of immorality that seeks to drown our voices.  No, our voices must louder than ever.  The world does not see the beauty that we see within our Church community.   The beauty that we see in every human life.  We cannot allow an ever more secular world to obscure the beauty of what we stand for as Catholics.  The vineyard of the Lord is great and vast, and we have to extend its message of peace, mercy, and respect for all human life and respect for the sacredness of marriage.  These are challenging times we are living in which is why we must rise with one voice and uphold all we hold sacred.  This priest has your back.  I just pray you have mine.