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Cultivating Your Vineyard: What are Your Fruits?

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HOMILY FOR THE 27TH SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME (Year A)

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My dear friends, this Sunday’s passage from the Gospel helps us to understand stewardship.  We are all given a part of the vineyard to cultivate.  God gives us a part of the vineyard because he trusts us. God gives us a vocation and a mission.  He gives us gifts that enable us to complete our purpose in this life and reach eternal life.

Our journey takes place within the mysterious gift of freedom that God bestows upon every human person.  We are called to love him freely.  This means that we can also reject God.

As living members of the Church, we are each responsible for the part of the vineyard that has been entrusted to us.  In the parable from this Sunday’s gospel narrative, we find that the vineyard has come equipped with everything that is necessary: the hedge, the wine press and the tower.  These elements make the work of the cultivators easy to accomplish.

God not only has entrusted us with a mission, he has also given us the means to fulfill the mission.

The sacraments provide us with all of the graces that we need to fulfill the duties that correspond to our state in life. Our personal gifts and talents enable us to carry out and develop our particular daily tasks.

The parish is a family comprised of many families.  The parish must be at the service of the family.  Especially today, when there are so many difficulties and dangers for family life, parishes must do all that they can to help families be family.

The health of any society is determined by the condition of each family.

Strong families make a strong society.

Strong families make a strong parish family.

Your family is the vineyard that God has entrusted to you.

The vocation to marriage determines who you are.  When someone asks who you are, the answer is, “I am a married woman,” or “I am a married man.”

Your profession does not define who you are.

Your job is simply a means to provide the money that you need to run your family.

Too many people see themselves defined by their profession; and the fact that they are married and have children, is as if it were, an added element in their lives.

We must understand that our lives are determined by our state in life.

Everything else that we do, including our employment, must be seen in relationship to that state in life.

For most people, the equation is reversed.

They see their lives as determined by their profession and their family life is seen in relationship to that profession.

Only when we truly understand who we are, can we then understand and establish correct priorities in life.

The vineyard is your family.

As a mother and father, you are called to be good stewards of your vineyard.  A good steward is responsible, generous, faithful, persevering and sacrificial.

The education of your children begins at the moment of conception.   The nine months before the birth of a child and the subsequent first five years of a child’s existence are fundamental for the entire future of this new human being that has been brought into this life.

Authentic parenting is not for cowards.  Babies are not delivered with manuals on how they should be raised.  For those who are just learning how to raise their children, there are many resources out there that are very helpful.

And raising teenagers is not easy either.

It would be impossible for me to get into all the issues of family life at this particular moment.  I would like simply to encourage parents to focus on their children.  Love them as the greatest treasure that God has given to you.  If you have grandchildren, love them too.

Your children and your grandchildren are much more important than your career and your money.

Parents who are really committed to their children and grandchildren are faced with many real obstacles.  It takes a hero to be a true parent today.

The circumstances of our times are very difficult, and most parents feel that they are on their own.

A second century saint by the name of Anthony of the Desert said: “A time will come when the whole world will go mad. And to anyone who is not mad they will say: ‘You are mad, for you are not like us.'”[

So, love your children and your grandchildren.  Give them your best.  God has entrusted these young lives to your care.

Your family is the vineyard that God has entrusted to you.  Be a good and faithful steward.

Today, the greatest obstacle to a successful and happy life is sloth.

Sloth is a disease of the will.

What happens to the individual ruled by sloth?

People controlled by sloth don’t get anything accomplished.   People controlled by sloth are targets for every temptation that the devil has to offer.  They just lie there on the ground like cow manure covered with flies.  Flies can’t stick to something that is moving fast.  And people ruled by sloth have a real hard time getting into Heaven.

They are too lazy to live out the demands of the Gospel.

If sloth is a problem for you, what can you do to get rid of it?

First of all, you have to have purpose in life.  Once you figured out your purpose in life, you can fulfill the duties that are part of your state in life.  If you are confused, read Rick Warren’s book The Purpose Driven Life: What on Earth am I Here For?

Your state in life carries with it certain duties and obligations.  Fulfill those duties with maturity, coherence, authenticity, perfection and most importantly, joy.

Secondly, you need to have a strong will.

Remember that sloth has been defined as a disease of the will.  So, it is going to be important to clean up the will by making it strong.

Make your bed with perfection every morning; polish your shoes; dress correctly; be punctual for church and your daily appointments; and keep your room neat and tidy.

A sturdy and consistent spiritual life is essential.

We have to stay connected to the Lord.  He will give us strength and fill us with peace.  The regular use of the Sacrament of Confession is essential.

We need to stay spiritually alive.

And when it comes to sin, we all get bent out of shape about the bad things that we do, but how many of us are concerned about the good things that we don’t do because of laziness, tepidity and apathy?

Here is a challenge for this week.

Do you want your life to change?  Do you want to achieve progress in your spiritual life?  Are you willing to do whatever it takes to get to Heaven?

Take a few moments in order to analyze your good points and your weaknesses.  Figure out what is your dominant defect.  Develop a plan of action to eradicate that dominant defect from your life and stick to it.

Always make good use of the Sacrament of Confession.  This is your best weapon in your fight against personal sin.  Develop and be consistent with your daily spiritual life. Do not engage in this battle alone.  Ask your spouse for help.  Be accountable to each other.  One of the purposes of marriage is the good of the spouses.

Be accountable to your parish priest.  He is trained to help you.  Let your parish family be a source of inspiration, motivation and accountability.

Life is a struggle and it always will be.

We need to be excited about Jesus and his Church.

We need to be excited about getting to Heaven and bringing others with us.

We need to be excited about making this world a better place for everyone.

Don’t let sloth ruin your chance of living a life filled with joy.

Remember what Mother Teresa once said: “If you want to change the world, go home and love your family.”

We are all mortals and we will all die.  What do you want written on your tombstone? Will your tombstone carry a beautiful epitaph, something that says something about the way you lived your life, or with the tombstone be blank?

Will people cry when you die or will they be glad that you are dead?

Your vineyard is your family.  Your vineyard is also your work, your studies, your friends, your parish and your community.

Be the best version of yourself.

What are your fruits?