My brothers and sisters in Christ,1
First of all, I want to welcome Bishop Joseph Brennan, Bishop of Fresno. He is visiting us today and you are in our prayers in a special way — in your ministry and the people in the diocese of Fresno.
So, in our readings for this holy Mass today, we hear two stories about vineyards. Of course, this is a reality that we understand in California, with all our beautiful vineyards and wineries.
And I was thinking that as we hear these readings this morning, we should pray especially for all our brothers and sisters in the wine country in the northern part of the state, who are suffering badly because of the wildfires. And then also let us pray for an end to the fires everywhere in our state, and all the other western states. And for all those who have been injured and lost their livelihoods, and let’s pray for all those who are still in harm’s way.
It is a difficult time for all of us, and for so many people — in our world, in our country and in our society. So we should especially pray for all those poor and in need.
So as we know, in the Scriptures, the vineyard is a sign of God’s plan for creation, and especially his plan for our lives.
In parable today in our Gospel, and in the first reading from the prophet Isaiah, we hear the same basic story. We hear that God in his creation is like a man who plants a vineyard. He takes great care to see that his vineyard will grow and flourish, he gives people everything they need.
Yet sadly, as we hear in both of these readings this morning, the vineyard owner is disappointed when his vineyard does not produce good fruits.
Of course, dear brothers and sisters, we are the ones that God places in his vineyard. We are the “tenants” that Jesus is talking about in the parable.
God gives us this beautiful vineyard, this world of his creation. He gives us the beautiful gift of our lives. And he gives us a responsibility. To work in his vineyard, to help it to grow and bear fruit.
So we are meant to turn this world, by our work and all our effort, into a kingdom of love. These are the fruits that God wants from his vineyard, the fruits of love.
Obviously in these readings this morning, we have a challenge, a question about our lives. Are we bearing good fruit for Jesus? Is our love pure and strong and are we working to spread the Kingdom of God in our families, in our work, in our participation in society?
The vineyard of God extends to the ends of the earth. You and I, my dear brothers and sisters, we live in just a tiny little area of this vineyard. And yet, even in this little area, there is so much for us to do!
If you are raising children, raise them with love! Pass on your faith to them, help them to grow in virtue and know Jesus. This is the good fruits that God wants from parents.
If you are in school, study and learn so that you can use your knowledge and talents to serve others and give glory to God.
God’s call is like this. We all have our own responsibilities and our mission in our environment or society, in our families, in our church. So it is important for all of us to open our hearts — say “what is it that God wants from me?” And then, make sure that we bear fruit for the glory of God and the service of the people of God.
Yesterday, in Assisi, our Holy Father Pope Francis gave us a new encyclical letter about the human family, and about our duty to love and to care for one another.
And in this letter, the Pope reminds us that love is not just a feeling. It is an action. A commitment. A sacrifice. When we love someone, we want that is best for their lives. That means if they are sick we want them to be well. That means if they are suffering injustice, in love we must fight that injustice.
It all comes back again, to God’s plan for creation.
In the vineyard of this world, God has created each one of us to have a purpose in a place. None of us is better than the other. Each one of us is made by God with the same dignity, with the same rights and duties. And in our work in the vineyard, God is calling us to form a single human family, and he is calling us to see everyone as a brother or a sisters.
The fruits of our lives must be the fruits of love and friendship with others.
We need to grow his vineyard, to serve our brothers and sisters in love, seeing Jesus in every person, and seeking a society of justice and mercy, compassion and mutual concern.
My brothers and sisters, this is the beautiful vision that the Pope gives us in his letter.
So, today let’s pray for the grace to bear good fruits this week and always.
Finally, I also want to tell you about a special event that is happening this week.
On this coming Wednesday, the Feast of the Holy Rosary, the bishops of the United States are holding a “virtual” Rosary for America. We’ll have bishops from every part of the country saying a part of the Rosary — and they’ll all be connected on the internet and social media.
So we want to invite ever Catholic in the country to join us on these channels, as we ask our Blessed Mother to intercede for our great nation and to help us all to create a society
where all men and women are treated as children of God.
Obviously you can find the information about this Holy Rosary on our website, LACatholics.org. Let us, my brothers and sisters, be together, praying the Rosary to our Blessed Mother and fill our nation with our prayers!
May our Blessed Mother keep us closer to her Immaculate Heart. And by her intercession, may we be inspired this week and always to bear beautiful fruits in God’s vineyard.
1. Readings: Isa. 5:1-7; Ps. 80:9, 12-16, 19-20. Phil. 4:6-9; Matt. 21:33-43.