We are suspicious of stuff that is free. “Must be defective. Nobody else wants it. I don’t need more junk in my house.” Smart salespeople put a discount sign on merchandise and then folks think that they are getting a good deal. “The stone rejected by the builders has become the cornerstone…” Why did the builders reject the stone? Why is the rejected stone so important? The stone is Jesus Christ. He is the cornerstone—the support for the entire structure—all life—the universe. He was rejected because He was free. Jesus came to announce God’s love for all of humanity. He associated with the untouchables, notorious sinners, the rejected by society. Naturally, folks did not like His approach. People were accustomed to the system of punishment and rewards. To this day we like to think that we’ve made a good confession, prayed our devotionals, read the Bible. During this pandemic our Bishop has dispensed everyone from the obligation of attending weekend Holy Mass. Yet, folks continue to feel guilty about not coming to Church. It’s in our hard wiring—drilled in from our first catechism class—“You’ve got to go to Mass every Sunday or you are committing a mortal sin.” Circumstances have changed our way of life—for about two months our churches were closed. Only on-line was available. Folks felt guilty when they couldn’t watch the Mass on-line. A fragile relationship cannot survive a crisis. Some priests are worried that many will not return when the crisis is over. Perhaps they will not. Perhaps some will. Who are the tenants who will give produce at the proper time? Who are the people who will return to be better Roman Catholics than before the crisis? Gifts will be taken from the ones who took Faith for granted and given to those who will produce fruit. Nothing belongs to us. Our Church has existed for centuries and will continue long after we are gone. We are passing through, trying to leave our mark, trying to make a difference. However, the groundwork was done by others. Thousands, whom we call “saints”, lived the Gospel, suffered martyrdom, gave great example. Now we are the ones entrusted with the Kingdom, with the vineyard. The landowner is God. God isn’t spying on us, but is genuinely interested in our welfare. So how are we doing? If we had to give the landowner an account right now, what would be the produce? Hint, hint—the produce has nothing to do with economics. Stands to reason that our stocks, bank accounts, or world trade is not what the landowner wants. Jesus gave us one Commandment—love God and love our neighbor. “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.” He did not say, “Do unto others before they do unto you.” Violence dominates, from violence in the womb, on the streets and even among those who call themselves government leaders. The world is watching to see how the tenants in our part of the vineyard will fare. Notice that in the story about the vineyard the tenants were given three opportunities to get their act together. They reacted violently each time. One reason that people react violently is because they can’t stand themselves—they do not know how to react to kindness—to freedom—to love. So, they lash out in suspicion. Everyone is suspicious when we do not believe that God loves us. If I can’t believe in myself, how can I believe in you? If I have a low self-image how can I think highly of anyone? That’s why the tenants in the story killed the servants and even the son of the landowner—they didn’t trust themselves. Everyone was out to get them. Everyone was suspicious. Meanwhile, the landowner keeps trusting us. In spite of all the mistakes we have made, God renews His love for humanity. We continue to enjoy the benefits of being the chosen tenants. Remember, we are the tenants—not the owners. We are responsible for our all that has been entrusted to us, beginning with our family, our Church, our world. The landowner is intimately involved in our progress, through His Son—the cornerstone of our life.
Msgr. Gustavo Barrera,
celebrated his first Holy Mass as pastor on September 15, 2007, the feast day of Our Lady of Sorrows. With his enthusiasm and spiritual guidance, OLS continues to serve our Catholic family in a way that will challenge us to grow as an evangelizing community.
Msgr. Gustavo Barrera, Pastor.