Wednesday, 23 August 2017 : 20th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Rose of Lima, Virgin (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Green

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, on this day we listened to the words of the Scriptures, speaking to us about the need to follow the will of God, and to do His works, for all of us have been called by God to be His workers in the plentiful and rich field of this world. This is the essence of what we have heard particularly in today’s Gospel passage, when Jesus spoke to His disciples and the people on the parable of the workers in a vineyard.

In that parable, we heard Jesus speaking about how a master of a vineyard needed workers to work in his vineyard, and therefore he went about, seeking for workers in the marketplaces and the other public places, calling the people to work in his place. In that parable, the master of the vineyard is the Lord our God, and the field or the vineyard is this world where we live in, and where the Lord is also constantly at work.

And all of the workers represent none other than each and every one of us whom God has called to be His followers and servants, to become the workers of the faith. All of us have been called to serve the Lord and to work in the rich harvest of this world, just as He Himself said on another occasion, that while the harvest is plentiful, but the labourers are few.

Why is that so? That is because while there are indeed lots of opportunities for the works of God through His Church to be fulfilled, and then there are also many souls out there who are still trapped in the darkness of sin and in the temptations and in the preoccupations of this world, but there are not many in the Church who are willing to take up the Lord’s challenge and do what we can in order to help His good works.

Many of us are lukewarm, and many of us are not enthusiastic in living our faith life actively and with devotion. And this is not what we should be doing as Christians. As true Christians, all those who have devoted themselves to the Lord, we should be active in reaching out to others who are in need of the salvation of God and also in need for our care, compassion and love.

And at the same time, many of us have become proud with ourselves, to the point of being dismissive or even looking down on others who are in need of salvation. We become like Abimelech, the son of Gideon the Judge, who was proclaimed king of the people of Israel, after having murdered all the other sons of his father in order to secure power, glory and fame all for himself. Jotham, the only surviving son of Gideon from the massacre thus denounced him in the first reading we heard today from the Book of Judges.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, this is not how we should conduct ourselves. We should be humble and accept the will of God and what He has planned for us. Indeed, as the Gospel passage showed us today, those workers who were called to work earlier complained against the master when they found out that those who were called to work at the last hour received the same pay as what they had received. They thought it was unfair for the master to have done so.

But the master was not being unfair, just as the Lord has called each one of us according to His plan and time, at the time of His own choosing, and all of us share the same reward, be it that we have been called to God’s salvation earlier or later. We have received the assurance and promise of life everlasting, true joy and happiness which we can find in the Lord alone.

Let us all not be proud, or be afflicted by greed in our life. Let us instead follow the example of the holy woman, St. Rose of Lima, whose feast we celebrate on this day. St. Rose of Lima is the first saint of the New World, the Americas, and was a devout lay member of the Dominican religious order. St. Rose of Lima devoted herself completely and thoroughly to the Lord, rejecting the pursuits of the world and all the temptations it offered to her.

St. Rose of Lima lived a very virtuous life filled with prayer and commitment to God, and wanted to become a nun, if not for her father’s stern opposition. St. Rose of Lima therefore devoted her whole life, until her death, as a layman member of the Dominican order, spending her time in prayer, and it was told that she even wore a crown of thorns as a reminder of the suffering and the sacrifice of our Lord Jesus Christ.

Let us all commit ourselves to God in the same manner as St. Rose of Lima had done in her life. Let us thoroughly devote ourselves to God through actions, words and deeds, so that in everything we do, we will always be the workers of God’s vineyard and remain faithful to Him in all things. May St. Rose of Lima and her intercession help us on this journey towards the eternal life in God. May God bless us all. Amen.

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