October 11, 2020
In last Sunday’s Gospel, Jesus condemned the Jewish Leaders for being tenant farmers who refused to give the owner of the vineyard his share of the fruit. Instead, “the tenants seized the servants and one they beat, another they killed, and a third they stoned… And when the tenants saw the son, they said to one another, ‘… Come, let us kill him and acquire his inheritance.’” And so they killed him. God was asking the Jewish Leaders to carry out their mission to prepare souls—the whole House of Israel—to embrace their Bridegroom, the Messiah, Jesus Christ; instead they crucified him.
Church pastors and leaders have a similar responsibility—to bring the souls entrusted to them to Jesus Christ. If we just focus on healthy financials, beautiful buildings, programs, and activities then we may be no better than the chief priests and elders in our Lord’s time.
Christian husbands and wives, parents, are also called to be open to life and to cultivate the vineyard of the home so as to render fruit—the children of God entrusted to them—to Christ. If parents just focus on a healthy retirement, beautiful home, programs, activities, good schooling for the children, and not protect their children’s soul for Christ, then they too have lost their proper focus.
We can also say that each Christian has a heart that is a vineyard that ought to bear fruit—each one of us should draw souls to their Love, Jesus Christ. If our heart is full of hatred, it will push people away from Christ, beginning with one we hate. If our heart is full of anger, pride, selfishness, or sensuality, etc. then we will also push people away and may kill Christ in them.
Jesus says: “‘What will the owner of the vineyard do to those tenants when he comes?’ They answered him, ‘He will put those wretched men to a wretched death and lease his vineyard to other tenants who will give him the produce at the proper times.’”
If people have left the Church in droves—close to 85% of Catholics do not attend Mass weekly—should we not renew our hearts so as to draw these lapsed Catholics and non-Catholics to Christ? That is why Renew My Church really means Renew My Heart. Each one of us needs to expand our heart, overcoming resentment and hate, anger and pride, selfishness and sensuality, so as to welcome other souls into our lives, and thus into our loving relationship with Jesus Christ.
The pastors of the parishes in our grouping—St. John Berchmans, St. Hedwig, St. Aloysius, and St. Mary of the Angels—have already began to meet as we prepare to enter the discernment and decision phase of Renew My Church. We have begun to pray to renew our own hearts and the hearts of our parishes as we team up to seek ways to bear more fruit so as to bring more souls to Christ. In addition to the Memorares, let’s take advantage of this month of the Rosary to beseech Our Lady with many Rosaries to aid us in our quest to bear much fruit.
If Renew My Church leads us to personal conversion—Renewing our Hearts—we will be ready to adapt our lives and parish structures to work in the Lord’s vineyard in whatever way he asks.
Yours in Christ,
Fr. John Waiss