Fruitful Labor

(September 24, 2017)

Message: What matters is that you and I are at work in God's Church.

St. Paul has words many people can identify with: He longs to be with Christ. That would mean freedom from the cares, trials and pains of this life. He desires to be with Christ.

Still, he says, if I go on living that will mean fruitful labor. This fruitful labor includes physical tasks - in Paul's case sewing together tents. It includes intellectual labor - studying God's Word. It includes organizing, talking to people and encouraging them. Above all, fruitful labor means prayer and suffering: physical ailments, emotional distress, loneliness and opposition born for Christ. All of this constitutes fruitful labor for God and his Church.

We can experience something similar when we join our lives to Jesus. We see it in the work done in our parish. Let me begin with something seeming mundane - the consolidation of our parish offices. Now, when you enter the parish center you first encounter our new receptionist - Abby Jacobo Luna. In the same room is Anita Maceda, pastoral assistant for administration. Across the hall you find Faith Formation for children, youth and adults: Meri Price, Tania Gutierrez and Sister Barbara. The old library became my office and my old office is now the new conference room and area for Children's Liturgy of the Word.

This consolidation of offices was accomplished under the direction of our facility supervisor, Cathy Lenac. It happened only because of your Stewardship of time, abilities and financial resources. At the end of the Mass we will have a report on other projects.

In giving this list I want to emphasize that fruitful labor is not about resting on our laurels but rather keeping at it. Jesus makes this clear by telling about vineyard workers who start at different hours: early in the morning, midday, even late in the afternoon. They all get the same wage.

For my money Blessed John Henry Newman explains it best: "The Master of the Vineyard did but one thing. He told his servant to 'call the labourers and give them their hire.'" Newman explains that God does not ask what they had done or what they knew. "This was the sole question, whether they had worked in the vineyard. First they must be in the vineyard, then they must work in it; these were the two things...The single question will be, are we Catholics and are we good Catholics?"

So keep at it. If you are young, don't think, "I can get on board later, toward the end of my life." This afternoon might be the end - for you, for me, for any person here or for all of us.

And if you are old, don't think, "I've done plenty; now I can retire." For sure God does have a retirement plan - it's out of this world! While we're here the Lord has fruitful labor. It many mean turning off the TV (or computer) and setting up a discipline of prayer: the rosary, chaplet, daily Mass. It's not too late to Take the Plunge using daily Mass readings. I explain more in the bulletin.

Like St. Paul fruitful labor may mean accepting physical ailments, loneliness and emotional distress. Do not envy those who have blessings you do not. Leave all that in God's hand. "My thoughts are not your thoughts," as we heard God say in the first reading. What matters is that you and I are at work in God's Church. I conclude then with his invitation: "Seek the Lord while he may be found, call him while he is near." Amen.


Spanish Version

From Archives (for Twenty-Fifth Ordinary Sunday, Year A):

2014: Finding Your Place Week 7 (Summing Up)
2011: The Sole Question
2008: They Thought They Would Receive More
2005: Day Laborers
2002: Why Do You Stand Idle?
1999: Are You In or Not?

Other Homilies

Seapadre Homilies: Cycle A, Cycle B, Cycle C

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Take the Plunge Bible Study (audio resources)

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